In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
Ah how hard to say what a harsh
that wood savage and rough and hard
that to think about it renews the fear!
And so begins one of the great travel logs of Occidental literature and art; for its inspiration gave flight to illustrative description as much as Dante’s own poetry. And the journey of course was into the deepest recesses of the medieval mind; descent into a maelstrom of god fearing terrors of the flesh and spirit. For as much as Dante aspired to the lofty heights of classical heavens; it was the depths of hell that bore the real fruit of imagination. As always, virtues described rather than lived are always boring; whereas the twisted irony of our regretted and guilt-ladden sins are what come to sting us worse than any blessing from above could possibly remedy.
It is along the path of self-judgement that we find a cause for justice to bestow meaning.
It is when we hold our actions up to reflection, that mindful mirror, that we find pause in contemplation of our own mortality. Our thirst for the eternal draws one mirror to face another and in that self-reflection we find judgment and meaning. For only in front of that burning mirror can we truly see ourselves as we see others.
And when we gaze into our own clear faces, undistorted by the imperfections, the agitation on the surface of our reflection , when we look past our own harsh judgements, stop playing God and start playing ‘Man’, we see straight into the eyes of others where recognition is awaiting our discovery.
But it is a long journey for the imaginative and for those whose feet are tired from the long journey they took just to get here, to the edge of the darkening wood. The naive and innocent are fleeter of foot when it comes to an inner journey. Those who only see the rays of golden light with every dawn and every setting sun are most likely to pass undissuaded by the obstacles wiser souls place in front of themselves.