separating paths

I am going to talk today about something more personal than I usually like to do on this blog.  My husband and I have decided, after 30 years together, that it is time to part.  Outside the obvious pain and the mundane why’s of it all, I was thinking today in more metaphoric terms to try to explain this dissolution.

I can’t quite remember what year Ben found labyrinths.  He had been writing a large & scholarly book on sacred geometry wrapped around the geometry of the pavement in Michelangelo’s Laurentian library, and in his thorough and polymathic way, Ben looked into every kind of geometry and sacred practice he could find until he walked into the idea of labyrinths.  What was meant to be a chapter wound its way around into a lifelong journey.  Ben began drawing and analyzing every imaginable kind of labyrinth, devising methods of generating them and writing extensively about the meanings inherent in the path one chooses to walk.  Each labyrinth of necessity offers a different approach to the center; one might take you spirally ever closer to the center while another might flirt back & forth, into the middle and back out, quadrant by quadrant, before delivering you home to the center.   All of it has been a profound practice of finding one’s way, metaphorically and literally.  I have watched Ben literally travel this path over the years, becoming a leader of other walkers, a kind of mesmerizing shaman. Labyrinths have become the central practice to his teaching: his favorite thing is to take a studio full of architects to the beach and draw labyrinths in the sand.  People come to our cabin to pace their paths in a simple dirt circle in the back, following Ben on his shuffle labyrinth.  It has been lovely to watch, but a practice I have remained on the outside of.

(from Ben Nicholson’s series of hundreds of labyrinth study drawings, colored pencil on vellum)

Meanwhile my own path has remained that of the shuttle: back and forth, back & forth, looping at the selvedge, traveling a known path towards the unknown of the art I was making on the loom, the path itself simple, slow, clear, but the journey equally mystical.  I understand this journey, it keeps me calm and open and is such a perfect meditation that I have needed no other.  Because of this weaving process I can completely empathize with the journey that labyrinth people speak about, but I am not on that particular journey.  This has proven to be a separating stance.  I feel slow, simple, grounded while Ben has been a gloriously whirling dervish.  Now he is whirling away.

“Beset”, 2010, wool with rayon, silk, metallic & cotton

Some couples do everything together.  Some couples, when they are both architects, practice together: they are together all day and together at night.  I don’t know how they do this, although it is remarkable and some of our friends have lives like this. I don’t want to indicate that something as large as the end of a marriage can be reduced to a simple story like I tell here.  It certainly is only tangentially to do with labyrinths.  I simply say this, we have discovered we are on separate paths, and I needed to write about it in the open.

2 thoughts on “separating paths

  1. nature_lover

    One thing I have discovered about walking a path– if I look down at my feet, I move more and more slowly and become more and more unsure, tentatively checking each rock for a wiggle before I step on it, testing for slipperiness before I commit to a step.

    And despite all that care and caution, watching each step always leads to more stumbles, more tripping over roots, more near ankle twisting.

    But when I raise my eyes and get lost in what’s ahead or above or around me, and stop even thinking about the path, my feet take care of the walking all by themselves.

    It always works.

    And yet, still, it’s not easy to trust my own self enough to give up control.

    Much love to you, Laura, as you follow your path. You will know the way to go, whatever direction it may take.

  2. Georgayne A

    I too have stood at the crossroad where you now stand. And oddly enough at the same period of time, 30 years. Sometimes where we end up when we finally know ourselves is not the choice we want. But, seven years later I can look back and know it was the right choice. It can sound trite when we say it aloud but it is true- sometimes the greatest love we show is knowing when to let go. If you can, stay friends and avoid bitterness. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

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