Loss of Journey

Not sure of the provenance of this phrase, which I came across a few years ago now in moderately unusual circumstances. A friend, J, was corresponding via email with a old kuia in Aotearoa; he'd met her through her mokopuna, in some kind of workplace situation, and had become fascinated with both the young woman and old. J thought they had access to spiritual knowledge of a kind that he wanted too.

J didn't have a computer, still doesn't, so the kuia emailed him at my address, I'd print out the letter and take it up the road to him; his replies he'd write longhand and give back to me, I'd type and send ... the precise context for the phrase loss of journey eludes me now but it occurred in a passage where the kuia was rebuking J for his (she felt) inappropriate interest in her mokopuna. She pointed out that he already had a long term partner (he does) so what was he doing trying to romance a young girl? The dead end the vagaries of his libido were leading him towards was what she called loss of journey.

Perhaps the phrase was her own. Like many second language speakers (she is that rare thing, a native speaker of Maori), the kuia has a way of illuminating English with usages that are eccentric or perhaps erroneous; this might have been one of those. I think it's brilliant - a perfect way to describe those episodes of doubt such as I had last week. Or the larger disorientations that occur when a relationship ends, a job is unwillingly lost, a much anticipated attempt at some difficult goal fails, an invitation to bliss is not taken up ...

It rhymes in my mind with another phrase I like a lot, narrative horror, which is slightly different, since it is about the fear of the revelation to others of real or imagined transgressions; whereas loss of journey occurs when the track we're on suddenly becomes a thing of dread, when we realise we simply cannot go on the way we have been and must find another way forward. Or back. Or sideways. When self narration fails: what can we do, where will we go, how continue? And there, precisely there, is an opening to the new.

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