The Wilderness

Five years ago, I found myself in a place where I now no longer reside. I was in the wilderness. I had almost forgotten how it felt to be lost in that metaphorical barrens until I had the pleasure of being in conversation with Ashley Hoskins, the Director of The Free Black Women’s Library Houston Chapter. During that conversation I was able to share passages from my collection of poetry and reflect on the motivation behind my words and my actions at the time when several of those pieces were written. I entitled that collection An Ode because I not only felt like I owed it to myself to breathe life into my feelings, but I also felt it was time to write a bold proclamation dedicated to the release of those feelings and a farewell to the person I was when those emotions held me captive.

I was in the wilderness.
Untamed, corybantic.
Grasping for an inkling of stability.

That desire led me across barren lands.
My body was starved for nourishment.
My flesh torn. 
Fingers mangled with abrasions.

I walked into the darkness.
I knew what I needed, but still couldn't see.
I was veiled and bound.

I was in the wilderness. When I read those words a loud, I felt disconnected. The woman I am now no longer finds herself in the abyss searching for pieces of herself, and for many reasons I feel like that is why I no longer wanted to really discuss passages from that book I wrote all those years ago. Had I become so far removed from the raw emotions and vulnerability that gave me the strength to put this book in the world? And by still clinging to these feelings, and emotions was I in turn continuing to give power to the persons who made me feel that way?

My conversation with Ashley was the first time I shared those words to an audience in a long time. I was not sure what emotions that reading would bring forth, but I am glad that I was able to read those words and still be filled with pride in that moment. You see, one thing that I learned while I was in the wilderness, is that you are your strongest resource and means for survival. Sometimes it takes removing yourself from the noise and becoming lost amongst the foliage to really see yourself for who you are. In the wild, I was forced to be one with myself. I was stripped bare from all the pretty and left to face myself in my rawest form. What I learned was, in the wild is where you grow.

The wild may not be the season I am in, but it was a season I needed to become who I am today. The inward-looking retrospective analysis that one is forced to contemplate in the wilderness sheds light on the bare essentials of self. I was able to see myself for who I was, and what made me. I was able to recognize the necessities of what I deserved and desired to lead me out of the wild. I had to do the work to get to the other side.

An Ode… no longer defines my current state of being, it embodies the journey of what I had to go through to reach my current state of being. Those wilderness moments speak of the tenacity and how one can take pain and use it to their advantage. I had to look into myself in silence before I could truly hear and understand my purpose. The people still need An Ode…

If not as a hymn of celebration once you have made it to the other side, but for accepting the season that you are in and understanding that the end of the wilderness does exist, and beyond it there is the valley. As I evaluate my wilderness journey and reflect on the upcoming five-year anniversary of An Ode… I am excited to not only see where my next destination will be, but also to hear of all the stories of safe passage that everyone who read my words have made.

I have survived the wild, and I appreciate the conversation that led me to remember it.


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