Doris: A Watercolor Serenade to the Courage of Authenticity and the Art of Connection
By Maria Popova
“There is no insurmountable solitude,” Pablo Neruda asserted in his stirring Nobel Prize acceptance speech. “All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance.”
The self-permission to dance into our authenticity, however clumsily, however lonesomely, may be the supreme achievement of life.
Told in tender watercolors luminous with life, it is the story of a horse named Doris who grows up “under the warm spotlight,” performing for praise, until one day she begins to feel the pull of something “out there” — something wilder, freer, and more private.
As she ventures toward it — “wandering, springing, spinning out of step” — Doris discovers a whole new world: a forest world of darkness and moonlight, of magical twinkling that beckons her to skip and clop and pirouette, until she finds herself “totally, utterly, and undeniably dizzy with moonness.”
But as she dances into her own wildness, Doris begins to feel achingly alone among the silent shadows — that haunting existential loneliness that befalls anyone fully alive and awake to their own nature.
Just as Doris begins to tremble with self-doubt, she is startled by the arrival of a small brown pony, dancing its own wild dance out of the shadows.
And so they begin to dance together — each entirely their own creature, yet united in their longing for wildness, as if to affirm Octavio Paz’s lovely definition of love as “a knot made of two intertwined freedoms”; as if to remind us that the price of being entirely oneself need not be loneliness and isolation, for there is no richer connection than that between two unselfconscious authenticities.
Published August 15, 2023