Excerpts From: The Journey Itself Is Home, A Book Arts Collection
(Includes Five Signed Limited Edition Prints)
Fetid, stagnant ponds
They all end up in the same place
The ocean, the Great Waters beyond.
Transformation, one thing becoming another
But still, still I’d rather be a wild river.
The sun, out today
After three days of rain.
I paddled the river
The river of birds
Osprey, shrieking from a tree
At the sight of my canoe.
River, I go to you out-of-balance, upset
I go to you distracted, burdened
The struggles, the little pieces of my life
That don’t fit together.
A couple of hours later
Paddling your sweet waters
Smelling you, listening to the birds
The birds that depend on you
I get the problems back, all neatly tied up
In a little package.
Sorted out, organized and neatly put away.
River, with you I find
The peace in my heart.
For a voyage to a destination, wherever it may be, is also a voyage inside oneself;
even as a cyclone carries along with it the center in which it must ultimately come
to rest. At these moments I think not only of the places I have been to but also of
the distances I have traveled within myself without a friend or ship; and of the
long way yet to go before I come home within myself and within the journey. And
always when the curtains are lifted, the night is without, peering in steadily and
constantly, with the light of the stars far beyond.
- Laurens van der Post, Venture to the Interior
What does it take to make a journey? A place to start from, something to leave behind.
A road, a trail, or a river. Companions, and something like a destination: a camp, an
inn, or another shore. We might imagine a journey with no destination, nothing but
the act of going, and with never an arrival. But I think we would always hope to find
something or someone, however unexpected and unprepared for. Seen from a distance or
taken part in, all journeys may be the same, and we arrive exactly where we are. . . .
There is the dream journey and the actual life.
- John Haines, from the essay "Moments and Journeys" (The Norton Book of Nature Writing)
Times of bewilderment
Times of confirmation, elation even
First one, then the other
Over and over
A creative life is not life in a perpetual state of bliss, of happiness
It is struggle and deep satisfaction, both.
An artist: someone prepared for both
Who works through them both, taking neither too seriously.
For an artist, great work
Comes not from talent
But from trying again, and again
To manifest the song, make it real
Give it life, despite failure after failure
Success comes in not giving up on the song.
In the wound that never closes
In the search that never ends
In the song over too soon
In the love out of control
In the glimpse of truth gone before knowing
Lies the deepness of the work.
The wise man, having come to terms with all such things
Doesn’t produce much.
At peace, the search over
The wounds all healed.
Artists, funky artists
Life deep in imaginary worlds
Unable to tell the difference (sometimes)
Between fact and fantasy,
Real and make-believe
Unless we try really hard
Which is absolutely no fun at all.
Cantankerous, self-absorbed ego-maniacs
Unpredictable, pain in the ass, trouble
Looking to find rules to break
Just to see what might happen.
Prone to taking a half-truth
And stretching it out of all proportion
And (sometimes) in the process creating new ways
Of seeing reality.
(Whatever reality is).
Artists, funky artists
Fun to be around (sometimes)
If you’ve got a thick hide
You can feed off their energy
Never quite sure what they’ll do next.
Life on the edge of the herd
(Where the lions hang out)
The zebras there
Have big, thick scars carved into their hides.
Out where the green grass grows.
- Roderick MacIver
Cliffs, hawks circling
Floating, going somewhere
But slowly, on the updrafts.
From the warmth of the afternoon sun
They get their power.
The circles of our lives
Triumph, mistake, mistake, triumph
I want to break out
And soar on a different updraft.
Some call it poverty
Some freedom. The run of the woods.
(The simpler I live, the more stable
This tippy canoe.)
I struggle to open my heart
To dance my dance
To be who I could be.
I need to remind myself
To live as I do
Not because it is safe
Not to avoid failure.
I live as I do
Because life is mysterious and precious
Fast or slow, day by day
In a wonderful way.
At the end of my journey I want to say
I lived close to the beauty and quiet of wild nature.
I contributed to the lives of others with my work.
And I made my friends laugh.
I was funny. I said some funny things.
Eulogies for my father from Paratroop Brigadier General
Who talked of how he impacted the young soldiers
Who served under him with his kindness and leadership
And from a colleague in Canada’s secret police.
How he changed and shaped Canada’s security intelligence service.
His friends staring at me with disbelief
Because I look so much like him
How we could be so different
Why we had to struggle so much
To find our common ground. How we didn’t give up.
How much sadness and happiness
We brought to each other’s lives
The man though, in the coffin, desiccated
Almost no resemblance to the proud,
Strong man I knew and fought and loved.
“I know Dad, I was the son from hell for you.”
I said to him during our final dinner
He didn’t say anything in response, just peered at me
Over his reading glasses,
Contentious or difficult conversations forbidden
Especially at our dinner table, forbidden
Even at the end. And always.
- Roderick MacIver