Monday, October 24, 2011

And Hast Thou Slain the Jabberwock?

We live in a world filled with Jabberwocks--social, political, and economic--wherein Lewis Caroll's poem makes more sense than much of what goes on around us. And although we may have relatively little protection from the Jabberwocks which roam the exterior world, we can at least join together to form armies to battle them. But there is also a potentially more dangerous Jabberwock within each of us which wanders the tulgey wood of our individual souls. Our personal Jabberwock takes many forms --insecurities and fears, regrets, unresolved issues, physical problems--which we must each battle in our own way.

Jabberwocks, like the human minds they inhabit, are complex beings, made all the more challenging and frightening because we ourselves create them to our own specifics. Each is a composite of everything that troubles us. Most dwell in the dark, uncharted areas on the far periphery of our minds, and though we may be aware of their existence, we can learn to largely ignore them.

But for some, the Jabberwock lives far closer to the everyday conscious, leaving the dark forest of the subconscious to break through the fences we have built to keep them out. I am one of those people. I find I spend so much time racing off to drive my Jabberwock back into the forest that it drains valuable time away from more constructive activities. And, more often than not, when I do drive him back, he merely hides behind the larger trees near the edge of the clearing, waiting to come out again at the first opportunity.

My personal Jabberwock is comprised mainly of the eternal conflicts between who I think and hope I am and who I think and fear I am. He is partly my ego turned on itself--the firm belief that I can do/be anything I choose to do/be clashing with the undeniable fact that no, I cannot. I refuse to accept reality while being forced to live in its world, at least physically. And the strongest weapon my Jabberwock has to use against me is the mirror.

He taunts me with all the mistakes I have made which cannot be undone; of all the people I have hurt or angered without meaning to; of all the countless things I would give anything to go back in time and do or undo. And he always, always, whispers to me of time, and the fact that no matter how much of it may be left to me, there is more of it behind me than ahead.

I do my best to battle my Jabberwock with whatever meager weapons I have at my disposal, or can improvise. For all my feuding with reality, I don the coat of awareness that most of what I want I realistically cannot have...not because it is me or my ego who wants them, but simply because there are too many things to want, and no human being can do everything. And I scored a sizable victory when I left my insular little world recently to go off to Europe for a month! Most of it alone. And I will do it again next year. I have determined to take far more advantage of whatever opportunities I have. When I was younger, I did not do so many things because I had the cocky assurance of youth that there was plenty of time to do them...later. Now I realize that if I have the chance to do something, I cannot afford the luxury of putting it off.

I sincerely hope that your own Jabberwock is not nearly so disruptive to your life as is mine, and that yours lives so deeply in your mind's tulgey wood that your awareness of him is limited to the occasional, unconscious shiver produced by a distant roar from the dark fringes of your conscious, and that he never threatens to come out of the woods.

And once again, I sincerely hope that, through all this talk of my Jabberwock and my battles, you may find something in it which applies to you and your Jabberwock, and know that you are not the only one who has one.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Kage Alan said...

I find I'm still battling my Jabberwock and time is most certainly not on my side like it used to be. It's why I'm getting married next year, why I'm taking more trips (like you) and why I'm considering early retirement from my job in order to spend more time with family, my guy and my writing (which is sorely behind).

Wonderful post for a Monday, D.

C. Zampa said...

I never can pinpoint exactly what comprises my own Jabberwock, it's too complicated.

But I DO love having a name for it now.

Nice post, Dorien.

Nikolaos said...

Yeah, I have a jabberwock too. Maybe we all do.

Dorien/Roger said...

Yes, Nikolaos...we each have our own Jabberwock. Some people just don't recognize it.