“The trail leads through the veil.” I was actually walking up a trail when I decided to see if the voices I sometimes hear – more about them some other time – had anything to say. That’s when I heard: “The trail leads through the veil.”
I experimented a moment, in case they might have meant “The trail leads through the vale” – which seemed possible, and which got me singing “Church in the Wildwood” – but soon I was satisfied the intended meaning was ‘veil’.
The trail I was on was a good-sized one, an old jeep trail, with so much forest around it, it was nearly a green tunnel. As soon as I heard this line, I felt the beautiful dense green woods ahead and on either side rotate, subtly disassemble, and shift, and my field of vision become capable of re-forming in new ways, as in a kaleidoscope. The world I normally know was still there but had become a blur. The trail became more symbolic than real, as if I were walking on a vector through a plane, almost like on a bridge in the sky or in space, rather than on a roadway through the trees. There was a moment of some kind of cognitive power, or possibility.
I couldn’t hold on to it. So I had to try to go back to it, as I’m doing by writing this, to see if I can manage a further step.
As soon as I wrote that, I remembered something from the moment. I’d been assuming that whatever there was to discover in that “re-formed” reality would be visual, but apparently it wasn’t going to be that easy. It did involve a visual clue – in the broken stained glass blur of colored pieces of woods and sky, I suddenly realized there was one odd, blank, completely white piece – one piece that didn’t belong with the others. The trail had to go through that piece.
As soon as I focused on the blank piece, it led into sound. Strangely enough, it was something like a podcast, or a radio program, but of a kind that I don’t think yet exists. A spoken-word Twitter feed.
Specifically, for me, it was much like one of those apps that lets you organize what you’re getting on Twitter. It was a sort of symposium or collective feed from four very different people. One was @MJonesStudio, or fellow artist and writer Michael Douglas Jones. Michael tweets often, in a rich vein of material closely related to my own work. Another was @samwisebruce, longtime editorial peer and colleague Sarah Bruce, who hardly ever tweets but who understands my work and has always been one of my ‘early adopters’. Third was @LaurenceShatkin, because even though Laurence tweets almost exclusively about his professional findings as a leading career consultant, he’s my friend and college roommate and I like to keep track of what he’s doing and vice-versa. Finally there was David Johansen, of the New York Dolls, who doesn’t seem to be on Twitter but who should be.
Needless to say, perhaps, but none of these people bears any responsibility for this crazy construct.
Here’s the thing: I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. That’s when I realized something critical about the people I follow (and who may follow me) on Twitter. It isn’t – necessarily — the specific things they say. It’s often just the sound of their voices – as befits a program named after bird songs. It’s a sympathetic, or inspiring, or challenging, or reassuring personal chorus. I realized what I was meant to take from them was encouragement, or courage. Perhaps this is completely circular, but going into that white, blank piece of mystery gave me courage to write this, first of all. Beyond that, I’ve taken encouragement to go further in my work than I may have done before.
An insight about Twitter doesn’t seem much like piercing a veil of metaphysical mystery.