More Than This

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In July, when events came fast and thick and there wasn’t really any point in driving three and a half hours home only to turn around and drive back two days later, I had the (mostly) good fortune of spending long stretches of time camping at four Quarters. Being alone in the woods was idyllic for me: I fell into a routine of writing, drawing, painting, or photography, then swimming—because, swimming–and napping. I’m sure that there was, to quote Peter Gabriel’s song, “More Than This” but at the time these were the important things.

Some mornings, I would come out of my tent at just before dawn, when the light was just starting to touch the eastern horizon. Barefoot, I would stand outside the tent door, and think of this song :

I woke up and the world outside was dark,

All so quiet before the dawn.

Opened up the door and walked outside,

The ground was cold.

I walked until I couldn’t walk any more,

To a place I’d never been.

There was something stirring in the air,

In front of me.

I could see:

More than this,

More than this,

So much more than this,

There is something out there.

When all that you have has all gone.

And more than this, I stand

Feeling so connected

And I’m all there

Right next to you.

The song’s lyrics spoke to me because my journey, both spiritually and physically, to find Four Quarters had been such a long one, and now that I was there, in the pre-dawn silence, I was alone and yet so connected to people with whom I shared that place. I had found a spiritual home.

Yet I was not unaware of the rest of the lyrics in the beginning of the song: there was more than this, there was something out there, when all that I had has all gone.

Well, it’s a song, right? Nobody said that I needed to identify with the whole song.

I knew that there was more than this, but I thought that in my case the phrase referred my own spiritual journey, and that I still had an awful lot to learn—don’t we all?

Now, I think that the song was much more directly apt. There is more than Four Quarters, and all that I have has all gone. I think of the “have” part as being the land and the things upon it rather than the people, but yes, all that I have has all gone. And I do stand, feeling so connected to all who left around the time I did, and I’m all there, right next to you.

But the song doesn’t end there.

It started when I saw the ship go down,

I saw them struggle in the sea.

And suddenly the picture disappears,

In front of me.

Now we’re busy making all our busy plans

On foundations build to last

But nothing fades as fast as the future

And nothing clings like the past,

Nothing fades as fast as the future

Nothing clings like the past.

I’d always found the last verse poignant, a reminder of how difficult it is to let go of mourning the things and people that have gone before. We plan, we grasp, we stand as if at a train station, waiting for the future, for events to take place—the event comes, and like the train it flies past us until it is gone, an hour’s anticipation rendered a memory after all of thirty seconds.

But what about the verse before it? I saw what ship go down? I supposed that it was another one of those verses that didn’t quite apply to me. Like I said before, nobody said I had to identify with the whole song.

But wait.

It started when I saw the ship go down.

Oh yes, there’s a ship. Now there’s a ship. We all saw it go down—though realistically it’s still going down—but it’s getting there. And I did see them struggle in the sea—I saw all of you struggle in the sea of fear and despair and anger and misery. And I saw those who remained at Four Quarters take the life preservers and boats for themselves, blind to the realization that life preservers become saturated and boats spring leaks, and that they too would be joining us in the water.

This brings me back to being busy making all our busy plans, on foundations built to last. Nothing fades as fast as the future, nothing clings like the past.

(Sorry for that little out-of-order digression.)

But here’s the reason for that digression: we zip about from planning event to event to planning event, and while we are left with great memories of these new events, we are left empty, and into the emptiness often pours the loss of everything before. Zipping about planning new events serves as a balm for some; for myself it serves as a reminder of my years of dedication to Four Quarters. When all is said and done, I am back to where I was when I first came to Four Quarters: I can support but I am not ready to plan. I am not ready to commit.

Until we can see.

More than this,
More than this,

So much more than this,
There is something out there.

More than this,
it’s coming through.
and more than this
I stand, alone and so connected
and I’m all there
right next to you.

So that describes my mental state pretty well.

Oh then it’s alright,
When with every day another bit falls away.
Oh but it’s still alright, alright, alright,
and like words together we can make some sense.


Much more than this,
Way beyond imagination.
Much more than this,
Beyond the stars.
With my head so full,
So full of fractured pictures.
And I’m all there,
Right next to you.
So much more than this,
There is something else there.
When all that you had has all gone,
And more than this, I’m alone,
Feeling so connected.
And I’m all there right next to you.

more than this
more than this
more than this

The Bottom Line

Please don’t tell anyone that they’re clinging to the past, that they need to get rid of their anger and sadness, that they need to move on. I know–everyone knows–that we need to move on. But we are individuals, so moving on comes at different speeds.

These “doors” were decorated like tarot cards and people wrote things on them as they saw fit. My message is on the top one, and it was tremendously helpful for me to deal with the very genuine hate I felt for some people at Four Quarters. That is all gone along with the ashes of the Summerisle Temple, and I do feel better. But I am not “over it” and I am not “moving on” as fast as some people want me to. Photo courtesy of Sarah Fina

“More Than This” as written by Peter Gabriel/Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC/Lyrics powered by LyricFind

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