The Tar Baby and the second veil

Today has been like this: delving deep, deep, deep into the muck and confusion and never hitting bottom.

In fact, I think the whole of the last two weeks have been like this.

The cold that doesn’t go away.

The family stuckness that doesn’t get resolved.

The work lethargy that won’t lift.

One step forward, and then two (dozen) steps back.

It’s like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Do you know this story?

Hello there, Tar Baby, how're you this fine morning?

Brer Rabbit gets so angry at Brer Fox’s Tar Baby (who never speaks back, being made of tar) that he tries to punch and kick it to get a response.

But each blow just lands him deeper in the sticky tarry mess, until Brer Rabbit is completely entangled.

Rabbit tricks Brer Fox into throwing him, Tar Baby tangles and all, directly into the briar patch, by making Brer Fox believe that this is a surefire and surely painful way to kill Brer Rabbit for good.

But Brer Rabbit emerges, unscathed!

To the astonished Fox, Brer Rabbit merely says, Born and bred in the briar patch, Brother Fox! Born and bred in the briar patch.

In the briar patch

The briar patch sounds like an awful place to me. Like the most stucky of Stuckville doldrums, except with gashes and scratches all over me. Ouch and ouch.

Even if, according to sneaky trickster Rabbit logic, the briar patch is in fact my native place and I will do just fine, today and yesterday and this week and last week are all about no no no I do not want to struggle. I want to struggle with  my struggles, in fact. Try and stop me!

I don’t want to be entangled in this Tar Baby and I definitely don’t want to get thrown into the briar patch, but here’s what I am willing to do:

I’m willing to pretend, at least for a day. I’m willing to try to borrow a little bit of Brer Rabbit’s sass to help ease this stuckful, mournful, foggy mindset.

What Brer Rabbit knows

Brer Rabbit knows about reverse psychology, for one.

He knows that good things can masquerade as certain death.

He knows about triumphing against long odds. Or maybe the odds aren’t so long: his genius is making the impossible look like…eh, no biggie.

He knows how to make an entrance.

He knows how to laugh.

He knows how to call on the most unlikely of allies, the ones who seem to have his worst fate as their dearest wish. (Now there’s a stunner: how do I call upon my own saboteurs to aid me?)

Brer Rabbit walks away unscathed because his story is all about easy success. He doesn’t soberly recount his narrow escape in the belief that triumph and joy are mere hubris that tempt the angry gods (a personal pattern of mine); he rejoices.

Brer Rabbit says sobriety is overrated. He rolls his eyes.

He is made of the most resilient stuff imaginable. And he walks off with a spring in his step.


Of course, this is the second veil.

The first veil was a wonderfully kooky message from my future self about how newness contains oldness, among other things (one of those things that sounds silly and obvious, but felt like a big huge revelation). The veils are the things I have to love and let go of in order to bring about big change.

This veil is all about struggle. Well, each one is: I flail and wrestle and dance and struggle with the veil until comprehension dissolves it. But this one is about the meta-struggle, and the stories I tell about it. It’s about jaunty, saucy, tricksy Brer Rabbit and what he can teach me.

I’m not quite through it, but I’m close. And hopefully I won’t run out of band-aids before I make my way out of the briar patch.


About jesse k.

Writer. Mama. Spy in the house of self-awareness. Occasional crafter, letterpress geek, and academic snob.
This entry was posted in Sovreign Symbols, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Tar Baby and the second veil

  1. Claire P says:

    Uggghhhh…. How could I have forgotten this, again?? Yes, meta-struggle. You’re good at this stuff. Good at explaining it too.

    My spirit loves it, listen: *** tee hee hee, how blown is her mind going to be when she gets this one and knows that we knew it all along!! So.Much.Awesome!!***

    My amygdala is freaking out,, ***grmmgghhmmmNOgghhmmgrrMIEWgghghghr***.

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am…. Except, now, not so much.

    It’s a good thing surrendering feels really good once you do it. Thanks for the reminder that everything is going to be okay.

  2. I had a wonderful picture book of the Tar Baby story when I was a little kid. I can still visualize the Tar Baby with his floppy hat and corncob pipe, sitting impassively as Brer Rabbit gets more and more frustrated at his impassivity!

    “Pleeeeeeeeeease don’t throw me in that briar patch!” was a family saying when I was growing up. It’s surprisingly applicable to many situations. 🙂

    I hope things are looking much better for you by now!

  3. Pingback: The hardest thing | my seed house

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