We started early the next morning, just before first light. He led me to a small boat at the edge of the water, not far from the freeway bridge.
We rowed in silence, undetected, and I began to see the island's surrounding wall, at first just a small sliver on the horizon. As we neared the foot of the island, my guide stopped rowing. He then spoke, "We will not be going any further until you confront what you have been avoiding." While we were moving, I had managed to keep my mind focused on our destination. Now, suspended over the abyss, I began to consider, in terror, what may lie beneath.
I remembered a story from my childhood about the Norse god, Thor, and the giant, Hymir, going fishing. For use as bait for the enormous Midgard Serpent, Thor had severed the head of one of Hymir's bulls. I was now in a position to cast a line with bait of my own. I pulled three unexposed pieces of film from my Polaroid camera and tossed them into the water.
The film began to darken and develop before me.
As I pulled it from the water, I began to see faint traces of all-too-familiar images.
I had found confrontation, but not the one that I was expecting. As my fears seeped up from below, I realized that this had always been more about me than it had been about her.
She had betrayed my trust, but the true depth of my suffering had been defined by the fear that continued to live inside me. I had been at the mercy of my unconscious, locked in dreadful speculation about the details of the past and their implications for the future.
We fear the things we can't predict, the things we can't control. We protect ourselves by insisting that these things simply should not be so, and we distance ourselves by identifying the source as a corruption in someone or something else.
In this light, the duality of "Good and Evil" takes on something more than a measure of benefit and harm and appears constructed to achieve some level of control, amidst a sometimes terrible system of limited resources, life, and death.
Embodiments of nature--the snake that sheds its skin in order to grow, and the woman, who can bring new life into the world, had taken the blame for introducing suffering to mankind. I was now staring at the image of the one whom I had blamed for my torment.
I had made myself out to be different than her, but my accusations of her were much more a reflection of what I had to hide and what I knew myself to be capable of, than of the harm she had actually introduced to the relationship.
It is far more difficult to affirm life as it is and participate in it fully, despite the suffering it brings, than it is to reject it when it fails to meet the conditions you have placed on it.