In the cave too there are marks, scars on the walls, great chunks of rock missing, smears which could be blood, channels worn smooth by the passage of tears. Reminders of the battlefield.
I do not display these marks with pride; nor do I wish to hide them away. They are the marks of battles eventually won.
And I have had to learn that once a particular battle is won there is no need to go back to fight it again.
Each battle won represents a rock, a foundation stone perhaps, set firmly in the ground, immovable by the turmoil of tide and time. And as I look forward, the road I must travel is constructed of paving stones made from these rocks. Until the paving stones are laid the road will be a treacherous place, but even one foundation rock will provide enough material to produce secure stepping stones.
So accompany me now to the battlefield, for whilst we must fight our own individual battles, our enemies are remarkably similar and we can learn from each other’s experience.
It is a battlefield where the enemy is cunning, elusive, almost ephemeral. Where the enemy, at different times, can be frightening, aggressive, threatening, attractive or seductive.
The longest battle of my life, taking place over nearly thirty years, was with a mistress who persuaded me that she was my mentor, my guide, my source of wisdom, my solace, my comforter, my only true friend. In the process she gradually isolated me from all those who would wish to help. She took me to an insanity that produced voices inside my head and green dragons which after starting out being frightening and threatening turned into companions. On lonely night walks she provided me with paving stones on which cherubs sang and danced to give me company and cheer.
She tried very hard to take me to death, but, although on occasion she got very close, that particular victory was denied her.
Looking back on the moment when I struck out for freedom from her bondage, it is clear to me that arising from the defining moments in my life and from the people in my memory, there had come an upsurge of strength and of courage. Without those, final defeat would have been inevitable.
I am loath however to use the word victory. That particular battle was won and I do not have to fight it again. But that particular mistress is still present on the battlefield. From time to time she will don her most attractive guise, speak in her most seductive voice and attempt to lure me again on to her particular rocks of destruction. I need to remain aware of her presence because, should I fall under her spell again, I am not sure I have the energy and courage to escape.
Nonetheless the winning of that battle was sufficient to provide accessible stepping stones on the road – safe places to stand, or to return to, whilst I considered my way forward.
It is fair to say that if I had known at that point in time the battles I would still have to face then fear would have taken me straight back into her arms. But I did not know, and as each subsequent battle has been won more and more safe stepping places have appeared on the road.
And the spoken word is at http://youtube.com/user/DavidAgnewpoet