The Dark Heart yearns to live the symphony of life in a minor key. The strains ring out in ominous, mysterious tones, ambiguous and melancholic. It dives into the depths of soul and life orchestrating ironic twists tinged with a mixture of solemnity and pure comedy. On a canvas, rather than paint the hues of life in bright, primary colors, it takes great delight relentlessly mixing and stirring until they meld into mottled tones of stormy skies and gooey mud puddles.
I’m keenly aware of and do not shy away from the darkness, shadows, heaviness, as well as the vast void that dwells within the human heart: mine and others I encounter. No human is immune. We all are the walking wounded. Thing is, we have an easier time watching stories that reflect our hidden vulnerabilities than acknowledging and reaching into the darkness that contains them. (Think of the collective popularity of zombies, vampires, Walter White of Breaking Bad, etc. who are monstrously wounded beings).
Although it may be preferable to chain, lock, and barricade the chambers of the Dark Heart, when we hide the intensity of our wounds it can give rise to depression, anger, self (and projected) judgment, and a false sense of being in control. “Domestication” from childhood on pumps our ego with messages to be good, dutiful, strong, scared, and (you fill in the blank), which eventually shrinks our wildness to venture where many fear to tread. It may feel safer repeating the same pathological patterns, but don’t be fooled. You will not die entering the Dark Heart. Although it holds unknowns and great uncertainty, there is light within. Expansion is waiting in the interstitial shifting that can take place…
I will be taking you on an illustrated journey of The Dark Heart by posting words with mixed media illustrations. I feel like I am entering my own dark heart because sharing it is frankly a scary thing for me to do...
There is nothing more interstitial than being alone. Really alone. I mean out and out stuck in the middle of the Sahara Desert between a strata of a bazzilion grains of sand below and an equal amount of stars in the sky above. The only sound a rustling of the wind through your ears and a few dry, scrubby plants. Your only companions are, again, the dry, scrubby plants, rocks, maybe a few birds, and if you are really lucky some other four or six leggeds that scurry about.
Sit for three days and nights in the Sahara with nothing to distract you - no iPod, computer, Facebook, television, etc. - and being alone takes on even greater intensity. With no technology to suck your attention, you not only sit with the vastness around you, but also with the grand array of voices within that have long been vying for your attention.
Is it scary? You answer that question. You can't know until you experience it. I offer that being alone is something anyone can do without going half way around the world. You can be alone any time, in any place, but how often do you welcome being alone? That is the challenge.
Try it some time. Start simple. Do things while being alone, but do things that take you out of your comfort zone. Here's sweet, poetic advice on How to Be Alone by Tanya Davis. Take a risk and exercise your being alone muscles. See what strength it builds.
How To Be Alone
We move through many shifts in life - birth, death, puberty, menopause, marriage, divorce, accidents, illnesses, being laid off, etc. - not to mention the plethora of decisions we make on a daily basis. Some tangibly shake us up like an earthquake and others barely register our attention. Tangible or intangible, they all work together in a common cause to shape our lives.
What feels "interstitial" to me is not just the shift itself but an edge lingering somewhere between the person we were before and the person we will become. A betwixt and between of time that can last anywhere from seconds to years and holds "those elements we have yet to see or imagine" (Working Together, David Whyte).
In the range of interstitial unknowns yet to be experienced, there are those who may linger on the edge of death held on by life support for as long as the life support is connected; babies can dwell in the birth process for hours, between the state of enveloped fetus and their first full breath of air; seconds can take on a slow motion effect when viewing a truck barreling out of control straight towards one's car.
The interstitial message that arises as our body, mind, and soul are drawn through these edgy experiences of what was and will become is about letting go. Control is futile, trusting the unfolding is optimal, even if it seems futile, for maybe everything we must experience, uplifting or not, is miraculous. Each and every moment of each and every life, no matter who, how long or short lived, how harshly or gently lived is miraculously shaped again, and again, and again..
Before I go any further, let me disclose that I do not have the corner on taking interstitial concepts beyond the traditional sense of the word. I wouldn't even deign to think I am that original in my thinking. When I began pondering on pushing the boundaries of its meaning, I did my homework to see what other groundwork had been laid.
Of course, I Googled the word and tucked way down past interstitial cystitis, lung disease, and other medical terms, there popped up a couple of gems that were of a creative nature.
The Interstitial Library is hard to explain, but basically there is no firm location or exacting books it holds. In their words, "The Interstitial Library does not aspire to completeness. Indeed, we champion the incomplete, temporary, provisional, circulating and, of course, interstitial. Above all, we aim to acquire and catalog those books that are themselves interstitial: that fall between obvious subject categories; that are notable for qualities seldom recognized by traditional institutions; that no longer exist, do not yet exist, or are entirely imaginary."
Below is the link to the page on their cataloguing rules. Go to the list of examples. Call me an interstitial nerd, but I found them to be quite amusing:
Another website, The Interstitial Arts Foundation - Artists Without Borders, "is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the study, support, and promotion of interstitial art: literature, music, visual and performance art found in between categories and genres – art that crosses borders." They publish an anthology of works called "Interfictions". These are short stories which fit no particular genre of literature.
I felt validated. The interstitial ideas that dwelled in the spaces of my mind found a sense of connection and like mindedness dwelling in cyberspace. And yet, I don't feel like this is all there is. There is plenty of room to continue to expand and explore - both into the interstitial recesses of the mind and the universe. No, we are not quite done here yet. We are only just getting started...
When looking up dictionary definitions of interstitial, most are related to biology (interstitial cells/fluids/fauna), chemistry (interstitial atoms/compounds), and physics (interstitial ions). Interestingly the World Wide Web (which, let's face it, is all about being interstitial) recently came up with a new application: advertisements or promotions that show up between two content pages (i.e., pop up ads).
This blog on interstitial dwells between an inordinate number of other blogs and a plethora of information. Although space is the nature of interstitial, it's also about what can be created within that space.
Ideas are Interstitial: creative thoughts that dwell within the spaces of your mind waiting to be discovered. I believe there is a wide range of ideas that can be spawned by thinking interstitially - through creative associations in art, music, literature, etc. The possibilities are endless because even interstitial can be interstitial. Just think what dwells in less than 5% of the universe between all that mysterious dark energy and dark matter. It's amazing!
The nature of the universe is interstitial. According to NASA, our Universe is roughly "68% dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the Universe." While dark matter and energy may not be empty, they are mysteries still being solved.
I'll make this short and sweet - we are floating between dark uncertainties. While that may not sound comforting, I am accepting that most of life as we know or don't know it is filled with unknowns. It is about stepping out of our comfort zone and accepting the challenges to explore the mysteries of our inner and outer universes. Maybe that is interstitial of me, or maybe it's just all interstitial.
Allow me to share my musings about a most extraordinary word - "Interstitial". I learned of this word during my invertebrate zoology class in college. It was introduced while describing interstitial fauna - tiny organisms (see the illustration) that inhabit spaces between individual sand grains. MICHAEL ALLABY. "interstitial fauna." A Dictionary of Zoology. envisioned creatures gliding through an environment filled with obstacles, constantly bumping into particles. These species adapted by living in the interstices; moving around in the spaces, thriving amongst the huge grains (at least from their perspective).
Years later the word interstitial bubbled up from the deep recesses of my memory. This time I was pondering the idea from a more human perspective of living life around, amongst, and between the obstacles of life. Like the fauna that innately flow in the interstices of sand grains, what about life flowing in the midst of the obstacles that arise? In other words, working through life's blockages, barriers, and insurmountable challenges not by ignoring or wishing them away, but by delving deeper into the interstices of one's heart and soul where innate wisdom resides
Life can suck. I've been mired in the dark side and sometimes quite unwilling to extract from the large, heavy walls I build around my heart for protection. I have a pretty strong voice inside of me that likes to dwell in those walls, even though I long for the light. My ego is a strong task master to all the other voices inside of me that love to resist change.
But when you "let the soft animal of your body love what it loves*," obstacles start to feel less dense. Instead of inflexible, stubborn resistance steeped in ego and "supposed-to-be's", there comes a willingness to let go into the interstices. At first it may feel like falling into a vast void of uncertainty, losing any sense of control, but, I ask, how certain is life...really? Step into the iNTERSTiTiAL Heart...…
*from Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese":
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The Interstitial Heart
Lisa D McCall is a Life Coach, former zoologist/animal
All this time
The sun never says
to the earth,
'You owe Me."
Look What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
David Whyte, from the poem Sweet Darkness
Betwixt And Between
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of
sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide