Once upon a time there was, and was not, a land called Akrasia. Situated just beyond the edge of the comprehensible it was said to be a valley country in which the depths are all too real while the heights are ever-evasive. The stuff of abstract discussions, it was a shadowscape that many claimed to know, without easily owning up to a personal transit across its many lonely paths.
This is what she told me. The woman with the sad, beautiful eyes that had seen Akrasia for herself and didn’t care to hide it. We sat together in the late winter light sharing silences and words in equal measure. We searched the blindingly white sky for traces of golden sunlight and as our frozen thoughts slowly thawed she poured forth her memories.
It’s like Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I turned her borrowed words upside down in my mind, shaking them out in pursuit of the meaning she had soaked them with, and as I raised my empty-handed eyes she continued. “My journeys through Akrasia broke me but strength was created in the movement. As I stumbled through raging storms or blinding fog, sometimes barely seeing the one foot I had to put in front of the other, a strength that was beyond me was perfected in my weakness.”
I allowed her words to trickle from my head to my heart and as they did, they collided with Van Gogh, “As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.” What she called movement he called fighting. For him, and so many of us, life is sometimes a battlefield.
“Why go there?” I asked hesitantly. A smile stretched from her eyes to the edges of her mouth. “I would say there’s no way around it, but that’s not the case. We can bypass it, or stop or turn back… But I have found that if I am to discover the promised lands in myself, and this broken but beautiful world, it’s the country I have to cross.”
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