Who Is The Other, Who Walks Beside You?
Experience with the Other shared through photography, poetry, literature, paintings and lives, lived.
This is a poem, I wrote, inspired by South: The Endurance Expedition, a book written by Ernest Henry Shackleton.
No Failure, Solo Not
No failure, is that, those lives, lived
which have put forth to us, the rest
that forbidden by some, tasked to the brave
hearts, who wish, defy and assume the test
look, elephant island, that
expedition, not willing
to release it’s guests
endurance fell, into
darkness, strength unrepressed
an other had joined them
third spirit, they confessed
comfort and trauma
a really strange mix
that factor of third
profound coping fix
those mountains and seas
desert heat, arctic cold
alone is the test, the hardest yet
triumph needs other, spirit makes bold
to feel, how, such a presence
guardian angels? we doubt
cast not such a stone, placebo or not
journeys and healing, explore not without
no failure, when solo not.
— Leah J 🕊
Who is that, who walks beside you? Shackleton asserts this phenomenon as a Providence of sorts. In the snow fields of South Georgia, in the Falkland Islands, he and two companions marched not as three, but as four. It is an ineffable, intangible intuitive sense that I feel viscerally just writing about it. In Shackleton’s words, on feels,
the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech. But a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.
The Waste Land, a poem by T. S. Elliot
Lives lived such as those of T. S. Elliot and Shackleton, are but two who give us an idea, inspiration and motivation to tough it out. The Waste Land was composed by Elliot as he recovered from a nervous breakdown, in an asylum in Geneva Switzerland.
With his life in fragments, Elliot as did the other explorer, sought to create something substantial — a something that could bolster him again the superficial world that lacked anything of genuine significance.
Water, in The Waste Land, symbolized this thirst for meaning.
If there were water….
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water.
— T. S. Elliot
In this desert, beauty
in this desert, beauty, is there
for the one who wants, who can push the pain
to endure the hot and the cold
to face the challenges of the unknown
to seek out the water, the other
this unnamed source, ultimately to be
— Leah J 🕊
with thanks to E. Scott Alighieri for his thoughts on the Waste Land and thoughts to see beyond the black and white