O, Polestar

I am marching through the branches
in a fit of wanderlust
to see you in a black hole
reaching out for something just
silhouettes of neighbors dancing in disgust.

I’m sure you recognize my noise,
and you’ve heard about the pit,
been told to be afraid of everything that lives within.
But you’re much worse where you are,
so will you go for it?

I have a feeling you might.

I am one of those people who rarely starts anything anymore because there’s no light or joy in it. There is only joy in starting because I can pretend, for a short period of time, that there’s some hope to be had. At the same time, I am filled with wanderlust and compelled to move forward. Deep inside, there is an inner calling toward all sorts of life and death. Some of it is, of course, growing up. Unlike others, I had a late start and so have found myself not maturing properly until I’m nearly thirty.

Some of it is the same compulsion–you might even say, sometimes inspiration–to keep moving forward, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You could call it a little flame, a little shine, a little beloved echo hiding underneath the footstool of the master. It started many, many years ago, when I was just a child. A determined impulse to hang on no matter how hard life tried to shake me off.

For awhile, it was my polestar. If I was able to navigate the darkest night, forge through the densest forests, sail the angriest seas, thread through the narrowest caverns, it’s because I had a strong conviction that as long as I kept going forward, as long as I kept learning, I would be okay. And, to a great degree, I still believe that. For all my bluster about killing myself, the drive to go on searching for whatever it is I’m searching for continues. It could be sheer boredom, but it’s more than that. It is a deep yearning that will end when it meets its objects.

Now we tumble down the hill
to a fire with a crowd.
The flicker becomes thicker as we bottom out.
The residents don’t even notice the sudden shouts.

When your eyes can adjust
and you see what’s in view:
discolored and distempered smiles that seem new.
Do you realize they were all once like you?

I have a feeling you might.

Like all polestars, mine never really went anywhere; I did. Should I look up in the sky in just the right place, there I’ll find it. It’s easier to find in the day–but at the same time much harder to see–while at night it seems like it’d be harder to find, yet look! There it is. In the darkness my polestar seems so much quieter, so much more feeble, so much more restrained. So much colder. But it’s not a polestar’s job to be warm. Their job is to point, or to occasionally leash you and yank you the right direction. For the most part, though, a polestar is an impassive, impressive gesture for the soul that feels compelled to go on.

Sometimes the dark is better. You can see your polestar, and you can think about who you are, what you stand for, what you believe. No doubt the darkness holds dangers. I’m fighting them every day. How many of us lose? We all lose eventually.

We can talk about it later,
but I think you’ve given in.

Right now, I wonder if I ought to change polestars or if the one I’m looking toward is the right one. For ages, I’ve wondered this, and thus I’ve wandered, gotten lost, gotten frustrated.

There is a certain tradition that warns its practitioners from being too easily changeable. Just as the unmovable is brittle, the flexible gets tied up in knots. There comes a time where you have to decide what your principles are. You need to declare your allegiances, put your foot down, waggle your finger at the naysayers. Find your polestar. Find two polestars. Find a hundred. But once you find them, decide if you’re sure. Decide if you want to hang on.

Don’t wander from star to star for too long. If you do anyway, it’s at your own peril.

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