Firing up the shadows in my belly

By Michele Zirkle Marcum - Contributing Columnist

Editor’s Note: Listen to the podcast of this column.

A shadow lurks beneath my brow. It scampers, trying to hide from the very light creating it.

I long to lasso my dark side and squeeze the wind out of it, but the more diligently I chase the faintness of my alter ego, the faster it flits beyond my reach. If I could only grasp the duality in the physical forest before me, perhaps I could elucidate the relationship between my own goodness and badness.

Sunlight drips between the trees, splashing a bit on a log here, a blotch on a pile of leaves there. I rest on a rock where the sun casts a pattern of dancing leaves across my bare legs. The air around me is placid, but the sound of leaves from above caressing each other and the speckled parade of moving shadows on my arms and legs tell me the wind is whispering up there high above me. I want to hear the secrets they are sharing — to hear some arcane truth that every traveler through this space and time has sought. I close my eyes, believing my hearing will improve if my sight is blind.

Several cicadas and a woodpecker answer me, but I can’t decipher their language. Maybe I am trying to too hard to let nature speak to me. The nuthatches and squirrels aren’t able to understand my audible musings any more than I can understand theirs. They don’t know English so why do I care so much about tuning into them and deriving truth from their chatter?

Maybe because indigenous people listened and learned from their environment — they heard their answers in the smoke from sacred fires. They gleaned insight into universal mysteries by charting the stars. Ancient peoples of every culture, from the Mayans to the Druids treated natural elements, the sun, the trees, the water, and wind, as interactive intelligences that help them experience realms beyond the physical.

The longing to see more, to know more, is like a fire in my belly, and I’m disappointed when the code nature speaks seems so encrypted that I know I may never decipher it … but I keep trying. I strive to see the unseen, to know the unknown.

I sit and watch, spellbound as the shades of the forest change with the lowering sun, the shimmering light illuminating previously darkened corners of the acorn-laden path I’m on. It’s as if someone from above has adjusted the blinds and draped the hillsides with a new design — as if the conductor of this play knows I’m entranced and doesn’t want to bore me.

The tapestry of life changes without effort like the splotches of sunlight effortlessly paint the foliage here. I decide to make peace within, to accept the random revelations that evolve the landscape of my life, illuminating my own dark corners, believing that when the final curtain cascades over my eyelids that a new horizon awaits backstage where I will no longer need an interpreter.

Until then, I will blow on that spark of curiosity within me, even if it be dark — a puff here and there, hoping to ignite the flame of understanding and to hear the whisper of truth that dances through the forest of my soul.

By Michele Zirkle Marcum

Contributing Columnist

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.