Michael Divine

Mansions of the House

I’ve got to step up inside myself and stand there at my door sometimes; you know, not hang out deeper inside the mansions of my mind, thinking someone might find me back there, painting or daydreaming, biding my time, enjoying the view. Sometimes I’ve got to step up and be the doorman. Welcome! Welcome I say, politely, but with gusto, not over bearing but with just the right amount of exuberance tempered by tactfulness as a good host must be.

There is often, I think, a great hesitancy of inviting people in like that: what might they find there? How well do I, myself, the supposed master of my house, know this mansion? Did I leave the doors unlocked? Are there any demons hiding under a bed or behind a door with sheets over their heads? How might it show it’s face? In what glance or gaze or quirk of speech or passing phrase might it be evident in the course of the conversation between you and I?

I watch these things closely. Not because I’m afraid of what my hand might show, but because I, too, wonder: what might be in there still. What is the meaning behind that statement, what is the intention behind that phrase or point of reference or inference. I watch them because I am curious about what might be the underpinnings of my belief systems.

I remember when I first took ayahuasca and the shaman who was leading the journey, an older man, small and wrinkled and from Peru, said something like ‘let us explore the mansions of my father’s house.’ I always felt that phrase aptly poetic for the experience of the inner world and for the journey we were about to undertake into the fractalizing and sometimes very compartmentalized nature of our minds. There are no closets in these rooms inside, only more rooms, closets that open into foot ball fields, rooms within rooms ad infinitum. Within some are altars. Within others, the dirty laundry. I suppose it’s for us to examine for whom or what the altars are for and also, while we are at it, separate and clean the laundry.

There were times in our lives when we revered a way of being, paid homage to a trait of personality. There were other times when a reverence was laid at the feet of the holiest of holies. The holiest shifts in meaning, growing deeper, wider, broader and, sometimes, completely redefined. Old  altars are forgotten, new ones constructed. By the same token, shrines to belief systems now defunct are not always torn down only because we have a hard time letting go. Instead, new belief systems get built and a room gets closed off, forgotten, unused, but still taking up  space. Maybe house cleaning isn’t all that is in order. Every house could use a little remodeling.

So we stand at the doorway because inevitably we go out into the world – we discuss ourselves, what we do, from whence we hail and to where we are going, and we tell a story that treats us well as we attempt to elicit something from the viewer: a sense of pardon, a chain reaction of empathy to endearment to love. Because really, in the end, we only want ever to be loved, accepted for who we are and we wonder: am I the living room as much as the basement? Will this person understand?

‘Welcome,’ says the doorman. ‘Welcome to the mansions of my father’s house.’

His statement is a layer cake of meaning, a fine paella of statements mixed with nuanced spices.

Take heed, fair guest: my rooms are wide open. Let us explore together. You never know what you might find and, to be fair, neither do I. Together we explore and, in this house of mind and in the mansions of it’s rooms, let us hope we don’t lose ourselves and, if we do, let us hope that which we find is a greater treasure than that which we’ve lost.

In the exploratory stories, half way between the top floor and the deepest basement, in a storage closet that opens to forever, I’ve got a pile of sketchbooks that go back to the drawings I made as a lonely scared child. I keep them to remind myself of where I’ve been, where I’ve come from and where it’s all gone to. I did my best to dispose of the drivel. What’s left is enough of a cross section that it can let future historians have a sampling of where I’m from.

Here, in this attic, is a bottle, the first bottle and only bottle. It’s never been emptied. It’s always been half-full. I’ve done my best to finish it. I am in love with new beginnings.

This right here, this balloon, half-deflated, is quite significant, or rather, it was, at one time. Good thing the things of the mind are biodegradable!

How about this door? What might we find inside it’s corners….


Where are we now? What, you say, you know this place?

O this is your old kitchen, from as a child, as a seven year old, scared from the bee outside and your mother was nowhere to be found and you felt it best to find her and when you did she was a disinterested mess? You know this place. This is your house. This is your mansion. It’s true, I’ve been to places like this myself. I think my own place like this was nothing like this. But you’re not the first, so let us navigate it together.

We arise, we fall. It’s like that. We traipse in and out of each other’s mental spaces. It’s just like that when two people open up to one another.

And in the nuances of our speech, in the subtleties of our movements, are written the understandings of our lifetimes. At times, there is nothing but joy and if you find me on the right day, I will have naught but love, dripping and dancing off of every note of my being. Find me on another day and it might be different. I might be a bit more like coal, for real. No one is to blame for that but me and the only reason I have is that I’m still turning that chunk of coal into a diamond. With enough concentration and patience, enough focus and mindfulness, it all turns into diamonds.

And one way or another, the dancing love, it remains. Why am I so convinced of that?

A little birdie told me.
And I listened.

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