The Promise and Challenge of Water- a lesson

Coalescing Shadows


‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,   

   Knocking on the moonlit door; 

And his horse in the silence champed the grasses   

   Of the forest’s ferny floor: 

And a bird flew up out of the turret,   

   Above the Traveller’s head: 

And he smote upon the door again a second time;   

   ‘Is there anybody there?’ he said. 

But no one descended to the Traveller;   

   No head from the leaf-fringed sill 

Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,   

   Where he stood perplexed and still. 

~The Listeners

~Walter De la Mare 

The idea for this project came., as such ideas often do, during the early hours, when the curtain of the night was in gentle but imperceptible retreat, when the relentless fingers of daylight were prising back its stubborn hold on the underside of the sky. At such times, everything seems the same, but this is the magic time, when all is in balance and ideas can slip through the cracks in the darkness and make themselves known.

 At first the idea was a thing without form, a whisper of possibility, a curl of wandering darkness within a greater darkness, a tremor of conscious possibility trapped behind the dam wall of Reason, but it would not subside, and it would not rest. It snaked slowly and sinuously along the wall, seeking a place of weakness, a way through, and it found what it was looking for. It prised the gap apart, squeezed through, and then erupted forth, bursting into space, gushing forth, pressure released. It gathered up the threads of possibility and like drops of slithering mercury reassembling, pulled itself into an idea.

The dream continued to form, to take shape. The glimpses of what was being asked gradually emerged and began to mould themselves into a potential project, and an opportunity. It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Injury had frozen me in place and torn up the carefully-orchestrated score of my life. With both legs in plaster I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t move around and, for a fortnight I found myself locked into a wheelchair. My matakite (Māori (n.) psychic) friends all said the same thing: Tony, you have been pinned in place. There is something for you to learn. And, having learned it, there is something to do.

I had recently moved to Rawene, in the Hokianga region of Northland, to follow the backward-pointing trail of my own whakapapa (ancestry). I had taken residence in a small apartment beside the harbour. The water whispered past just five paces away from my door, day in, night out. The boy who had been born in and washed by the revolving shadows of mountains and their inscrutable silence began to hear the song of the water, and to sense a deeper truth. There was a metaphor here, a sense of the river as a journey. As I watched the river, it was watching me. I would find myself staring at the water, observing the currents and the strange interplay of the opposing spirals which formed in the water. In the evenings, as I sat in the dark, I would hear the water outside my door, whispering in sibilant and unhurried tones. There was a story here. One I was being told. However, I realised my task was to write it down and then to pass it on. We Manifestors are like that. It is in our nature to produce, for it is by our production that we measure ourselves.

Now, in the hospital at the top of the peninsula, with a distant view from my window of the river as it sidled past the Narrows below Kohukohu, and with little else to do except wait for my damaged body to catch up, I would find myself waking early and watching the first play of light on the waters, and follow its moods through the day. I would be there at sunset and afterwards, as the river continued its ceaseless journey to the sea. I would watch it shimmering softly under the moonlight, and in my imagination under the New Moon.

And in the nights, when I travelled in other realms, the dreams would come, of a Great River as a Singularity, an archetype. I would see a voyager on the water, an archetypical traveller journeying from the Source to the Great Ocean and oblivion. The Tarot hermit and the Traveller in Walter de la Mare’s poem, seeking an answer that never came. Then in those early hours in the Floating Space between Sleep and Wakefulness, new understandings would come.

And a task.

You must share these, the small voice inside me said. Knowledge is given to be shared, and you must manifest this in an outer form. This is your mission.

But how? I asked.

Write. Just write. You have the skills.

Now use them.

shadows, Rangi Point rocks