notes on the midway

carte blanche is a monthly column by storyteller and artist bahia watson. this is a free space.

limbo. in roman catholic theology it’s a place between heaven and hell. they say it’s where unbaptized babies go, but i think it’s where we all are. the yin yang symbol, two opposing forces governing the fundamental expression of our sphere, it really feels that way now. the stark balance in the simultaneously contrasting realities of our species. people say it’s not black and white, but it is, isn’t it? it feels very black or white.

the hovering grey state of uncertainty, the misty haze of the unknown, that mid-air feeling; these are places i exist in often. it’s the archetypal fool in me. one foot in this world, the other out in the endless ether from which i came, i don’t mind this, let’s stay here and await further instruction, everything had gotten too fast anyway, the speed wasn’t true.

in despair there is a fear that every day will be the same. at least it isn’t that, at least it hasn’t sharpened its form, there are blessings in the fog, in a reality murky and opaque, maybe this is the day to find shapes in the sky. look – i see a dinosaur! look – i see a future!

change is unbearably slow, that is the agonizing sincerity of it. with all our hyper-alertness and intelligent gadgetry, with all our access to everything that is and everything that ever was, we evolve at the pace of a mountain. the crust of the earth is in imperceptibly steady motion and sometimes the plates beneath the planetary skin on which we survive, unrushed and enormous, manage to touch, and something new is released from the middle and formed. they took millions of years, we are relatively young here. our past is present and we’ve escaped nothing. all we thought we threw away is living amongst us and any brave new worlds are generations away.

there’s the humble. who lives to see the fruits of their labour of progress? not wealth—wealth is not legacy because enlightenment is not material. who lives to see real change? year after year, images will circulate of wrinkled hands and tired arms holding weathered placards in the air: I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M STILL DOING THIS. we see the possibility, we see the potential, a wavy mirage on the horizon, waters we’ll never touch nor taste, always a few steps further, just a little bit longer, out and out, pulling us into the forward distance.

and there’s the duty, the service. to give our energy, our focus, our determination to journeys with no end. we may never bear witness to a truly better world, but if we believe it is possible, then someone might. someone who is not ourselves might reap what we have sown.

we are the seeds of our ancestors, all of us. we are the manifestation of their future and we are here. like a forest, we move slowly, but we do move, one seedling at a time. the way we can’t watch a tree grow and yet it does. small sudden bursts of new green bulb and stretch and over a lifetime they expand. and then smaller plants and animals and insects live on it and it becomes a home. we can make ourselves useful right here where we are.

conversation advances faster than behaviour because true understanding involves an unraveling that takes time. in the age of information much of our work is to unlearn; just when everything is speeding up we are asked to slow down. no one single person can deliver demise nor salvation. everything that has ever happened and ever will happen, is the result of a coordinated effort. we plant hopeful seeds in overwrought dirt because that fruit may be the nourishment our future needs. there are no trains nor planes to carry us, we will travel by foot. step by step with a vision ahead that looks back and says: we made it.


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Written By

Bahia Watson is a storyteller born and raised under the prairie skies of Manitoba. She is a tender black woman with a mountain of feelings most often expressed through acting, writing, and the occasional song.