How do you describe a mountain? How can you talk about something that has taken thousands of years and watched hundreds of lives begin, crest and fall? How do you and how can you reduce the majesty of mountains to words without running out of adjectives? We take mountains for granted, they’re just a feature on landscapes, views from windows, something that must be scaled or traversed or an overcome. When was the last time you contemplated a mountain?
If it’s difficult enough to describe a mountain, imagine the difficulty in describing the most beautiful mountain on earth, a mountain that breathes and is so alive that it has not scarified into the environment, a mountain that could show her displeasure at any moment: Mount Fuji.
If the capricious, powerful, jealous Goddess of Fire, Pele who lives in the crater of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii can create and destroy islands then I thought that maybe Miss Fuji can do the same for me. I didn’t need an archipelago devoured or conjured, I just needed a wound healed, or at the very least I needed to whisper a wish to the mountain: “please look after me, I can’t look after me right now.” I was hoping that she would whisper me back to life.
It’s taken me a long time and a lot of devastatingly difficult and painful falls to begin to understand that my traumatic upbringing never equipped me perfectly to be a good partner or lover. History only explains so much, the rest I did myself although I wasn’t entirely to blame. I wasn’t set up properly to carry out certain tasks, and that much wasn’t my fault, but continuing that treatment on myself was my doing alone. In defence, either old habits die hard or I didn’t know any better. I was never properly equipped to scale a cliff, I didn’t know this until I realised I wanted to get to the top but was missing several key pieces of gear.
Now, inadequately prepared, wounded and lost I took myself to that iconic and perfect cone looking for answers because I had just ended my marriage. Even though I was the one that made the decision to end it; I found that I was the one that desperately needed healing.
I fronted to this mountain, expecting some sort of cure like Miss Fuji was a witch doctor or shaman, expecting Fuji to be some sort of oracle or diviner or conjurer of spells. This complex and clumsy collection of carbon, oxygen, calcium and iron that is my body was seeking help from a being so majestic, and help for what? For better equipment? For strength to do what I felt I needed to do? Or for a whisper?
I can’t even describe what I’m feeling now, let alone then. If I had to describe how I feel, I would ask you to imagine a clean, deep wound from under your armpit, through your ribs and ending at the hips. It’s not fatal, but you can certainly see inside and see what I’m made of. Despite my best efforts what lies under this thickened skin is not a series of galvanised and reinforced sheets of steel, or cement foundations. What’s under there is all very human, and it’s pink and it’s raw and it’s out there in the open. My heart beats, my lung inflates, my blood circulates, it’s devastatingly human and capable of pain and not as strong as I thought. It’s disappointingly mortal. Being so wounded is worse at night, not because it’s dark but because I’m tending to this wound all on my own and the wolves that live in my mind have smelled spilt blood. All I have to do is make it to the morning- every night.
The nights also feel boundless. Even though I feel like my experiences have left me so ill equipped to be a committed, loving person in a relationship- it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss someone being committed and loving to me. Then at the same time, I have this competing feeling that I turned my back on things I’m made of just to be a part of things that we made. I felt that I was someone’s husband, instead of him being mine. It wasn’t a completely and sudden replacement of me as an individual to me as the attachment to a unit, but more a subtle giving way like twilight gives way to morning. It happened slowly at first and then all at once. Those things that had always made me: resilience, independence and uncompromising freedom weren’t extinguished, they had been filtered so much they were going dim and in panic, I fled.
My childhood left me extremely well equipped to be resilient, independent, self directed and self made, all skills that are great at getting through life, carving a career path, collecting university degrees but not for being a good husband. Except he was the most perfect person to me and for me, there was a sense of feeling completely and totally unstoppable, even if we were just lying next to each other. Together, it felt like the wolves in my mind that would cannibalise a kind word or compliment directed at me before I could receive and accept it, could be tamed.
How can you ask Pele for healing from someone that left you better than when they found you? What could Fuji do but watch me stand before her looking for answers, looking at me with nothing but pity. how could my trivial human drama ever compare with the millennia of suffering and joy that Fuji has seen, that Fuji herself has created? I just wanted answers, in the plural but I only got one, in the singular. Fuji reminded me to go back to one vow I made:
“You will never be forgotten by me, in the procession of the mighty stars your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart, here I will carry you, for ever.”
And I won’t.
And I will.