Discover more from The Medicine of Understanding
A Village of Voices: Guiding us through the journey of following our own star.
All my work are labours of love. This one no less.
Sometimes I still wonder how I am supposed to bring my gift and magic to the world. Finding the magic is half the battle. Finding the way to let it live in the world can be just as difficult, and it can break us in totally different ways.
I am beginning to suspect this is both essential and completely necessary.
The important thing, I am sure of it, is that we wonder.
My last book Keeper of the Flame was a heavy, beautiful, dark and very true to the project it described. It was written for me, and it described a difficult and necessary journey very private to a very select kind of configuration that my soul came to this place with. This made it invariably less accessible and relatable to many. This is okay.
My new book however, Stepping Through, is lighter, in both senses, and a whole different kind of beautiful. It is highly relatable and accessible because it was written for you, in every way. The book is structured very thoughtfully to outline a journey we all undertake, if we mean to grow. It contains a Village of Voices, acting in turn as a companion and at times a physician, sometimes a midwife and sometimes a blacksmith, to guide us through the moments of trial and undoing of life and relationships. It deals with difficult endings, forgiveness, self-love, defiance, uncertainty and our mutual life-long wish, to Belong.
It is the book I would have wanted as a companion and guide as I struggled and loved and lost along my own journey.
This work is a form of prayer, a heartfelt wish that this book may become a regular companion and physician to you, as many of the pieces are for me. Poetry for me has never been simply a hobby or a vocation, it is a sacred practice by which we can come to the greatest gifts of healing and belonging: The Medicine of Understanding.
The book can be read cover to cover, and has a beautiful flow, or it can be picked up and consulted at any moment of difficulty or troubling uncertainty in our lives.
But its true value is as a companion, a ‘user manual’ of a human life, acknowledging the inevitable troubles we face, the way life breaks us, and takes our promises from us, and how this is absolutely necessary in the wider arc of meaning. It provides a guiding and unwavering voice, a fresh undistorted eye on the problem and therefore a passport to perspective and self-acceptance.
—Something we all need, if we have chosen a life of growth and discovery.
HOW TO FOLLOW
This work is about Stepping Through.
A well-worn path carries its own unwritten signage exclaiming loudly: “Many have passed this way, and many more will follow.”
We mistakenly use this as a passport to certainty, even when we do not actually know the way or have only the vaguest understanding about the destination. It assures the trusting child in us that if we are making a mistake at least we will not be alone, and there will be others in the same harvest of fate that we may find company in and belong to.
When we find ourselves lost and adrift on the open seas of our life, there are no well-worn paths. There are at once no paths and possible paths lying every which way. They lead towards false beacons of hope and guidance that taunt us like mirages in the desert; promising the oasis of safety and then evaporating into shimmering air and shifting sand as soon as we get close. There is a troubling sameness shared between the wettest wet and driest dry.
Like a desert in the way that mirages can madden any hope for respite and in which the dunes shift, and all seem the same. Like the open water in the way that the ever-moving tides and currents can foil our best efforts to strive or to stop and collect our sense of being. Where, we have no certainty which way the nearest shoreline lies, or even if we will be equal to the shelter that will be offered when we get there. And for both the deserts and the seas, the skies are strange, and the only word inscribed across the heavens is uncertainty.
In times like this, there is a troubling way in which company can feel like loneliness and the medicine of common advice can harm us like sharp poisons. We find ourselves lost, and uncertain, unsure at times of which way to go, and at other times whether we are sufficient for that journey. Then in between these two shifting tides, we learn to mistrust any promise of certainty.
There is a shape to every human life which is defined by these periods of transition and transformation. These stretches of the road do not have the record-scratch of a sudden calamity, or the gnawing indecision of a simple fork in the road, in which we still always have half a chance of making the right call and often plenty of time to ask for guidance. These rather, are miles of great loneliness and uncertainty, where we do not know actually which way we ought to be going, how quickly, or whether we even have what it takes in us. We arrive at a place where we do no longer know how to trust even our own decision making, and we slowly realise that we are being led towards a door, the threshold of which will either make or break us.
The word threshold makes it sound like it is a sharp, clearly defined border between here and there, between the way that led us here and the way we are invited to follow after. Rather it is the birth canal we are trying to struggle through, from the womb of our previous self.
The word threshold makes it sound like it is a sharp, clearly defined border between here and there, between the way that led us here and the way we are invited to follow after. Rather it is the birth canal we are trying to struggle through, from the womb of our previous self. The passage through which, is the intimate and necessary encounter with not knowing, stripping from us in the end, what feels like everything and turns out to be nothing essential. What is being taken from us is only the small language through which we are attempting to hold the conversation which is always ready for us some way before we are ready for it.
This book has four parts: Trusting to the Way, The Art of Endings, Time in Ireland and Making the Leap.
They are a guide for the human soul that we have forgotten the voice of in our busyness and our overwhelm, in these protracted moments of great uncertainty.
A Village of Voices…
The first part is a gentle reminder that our troubles are not in the way but rather are the way. The writing and poems are a village of voices reminding us that change is not something that happens to us, but rather something we are intimately a part of. The reflections and encouragements ask us to trust the way and to choose the way we face troubling moments of both triumph and distress. They remind us that we are so much more than what we seem in our moments of smallness. They weave a spell which describes an arc of meaning to which our lives belong which are so much vaster and more expansive than the small nattering voices we carry with us would have us believe. They encourage in us acceptance and even leadership, inviting us to allow our wounds and losses and to find therein the heart of compassion and generosity, sometimes most especially to ourselves.
The second part are the voices of the shepherds and solicitors of the village explaining us the necessity and practice of forgiveness, reconciliation, walking away, breaking promises and making agreements. Change implies endings and new beginnings, and when we change and life changes, and the loved ones in our lives change, everything old is gone and everything is made new. Those transformations hold enormous opportunities for us to loosen the chains that bind us to old wounds and to rebuild our shared boundaries with love.
The third part is about the final undoing we have to face in such journeys. It is about a time I spent in Ireland, but more accurately about the nature of time in Ireland, and how, in our most troubled moments other voices can speak to us, that we had become deaf to. These are the voices of the land, and the song that is sung between a land and its people, and how it lingers through their troubles and their forgetfulness. It is the voices, and the song, and that early music that lifts the veil of complexity and reductionism and reveals a quality of truth that is best described as myth. Myth is a way of telling tall tales that conspire somehow to point more clearly to a deeper truth. When our lives are troubled with overwhelm, sometimes the only way we can rediscover the orientation of meaning, is by letting go the literal, and embracing the wisdom of the figurative. Sometimes the symbols and metaphors can draw a much clearer map to follow when we become in this way, lost.
These are the voices of the land, reminding us of our indelible interconnectedness with nature, the soil, the water, the air and with it our ancestors. And also with the ones we lead, and who will yet follow, still to open their eyes to the world. Above all, it is the voice of our own soul, speaking very quietly from between the lines of our journals, which we overhear as soon as we can find the courage to stop picking the locks of our misfortunes. It is an invitation to drop what we are so busy doing, spoken by who we are refusing to allow to arrive while we do it. It is about the wisdom of a kind of surrender, of not being so certain, allowing ourselves perhaps even to disappear.
The final part are the voices of the midwives and the wetnurses, the smiths and the bards, reminding us of the seasonality of life and the wisdom of practice, timing, and grace. They impart a counsel through a gentle understanding of the beautiful paradox of Being and Becoming.
Their voice is about the lesson of the ratchet and the pendulum; the way things ebb and flow, and the way thresholds arrive beyond which something must be lost in order for something greater to arrive. Theirs is the wisdom of the truth of opposites. This includes the relationship between giving and receiving, beginnings and endings even between the nobility of defiance and the prudence of harmony and allowing. They are our reminders of the essential necessity of prayer, which need have nothing to do with any shared ideas of gods or divinity.
Prayer is simply a form of practice —a conversation of vulnerability and honesty in the presence of whatever is present when we can admit that we have a Soul. And Soul, is nothing more ethereal than our sincere heartfelt sense of meaning, vitality, belonging and connection that distinguishes a life of meaning from a mere existence.
The term ‘stepping through’ is also a term used in software programming and debugging where the ‘run-time’ results are not aligning with our expectations or are causing errors.
It is the word used to describe the specific effort and modality of teasing apart the ‘code’ in the context of the reality they are trying to run it in, in an effort to debug it. The programmer can step through their code, one step of a sub-procedure at a time. The modality suspends the unexamined flow of the program to expose oversights of understanding and of scope and of misuses of ‘language’. In this way they identify and correct the ‘bugs’ which stem from our misapplications of language and logic which in turn result from our misunderstanding.
All said, this book is an Invitation via both meanings of the term. It is an encouragement for us to face what it takes to face the threshold of these deaths and rebirths in our life and in our relationships. It is also an invitation to prudence and understanding.
It is a Companion along that journey, in both senses of the term. It is encouraging as a prayer that can live alongside our own prayer as we ready ourselves for moments of trial. It is also as a guiding and unwavering voice, a fresh undistorted eye on the problem and therefore a passport to perspective.
In both senses of the term, this is the art and practice of Stepping Through.
THE BACK PAGE
To be a true seeker, is to hold the essence of a simple prayer in our hearts: the wish to be whole and to be home.
This is a guide to the art of seeking and following the way, through endings, grief, disappearance and the way in which we are unmade by life, to make us ready to face the threshold, and finally to make a new peace again with the hand of ours reaching from beyond the veil of knowing, inviting us ever forward, to Tomorrow.
The poems and encouragements in Stepping Through, meet the reader in the spirit of guidance and companionship along the journey of necessary threshing, about Love and Life and how we navigate our sense of belonging and purpose as our certainty and self-belief waxes and wanes through the tides and seasons of a well lived life.
Rocco Jarman’s work is a blend of stirring poetry and everyday philosophy which opens a window onto the often-troubling but beautiful account of seeking connection, meaning and belonging in our lives. The work reflects a deep understanding of the human psyche which is both powerfully compassionate and aspirating to the soul.
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
Why are both my books priced at exactly $14.25?
Because the numbers are the count of letters in the phrase: “I Live My Truth”.
Note on Amazon availability: Unless you are in the right marketplace, Amazon will claim the book is not available. It is. You just have to make sure you’re in the right marketplace to get it produced and shipped.