I have just finished reading Uncharted: A Journey along the Edge of Time and Survival, by Cate Cabot, a woman whom I knew quite well back in Jackson, Wyoming where I lived for 20 years. Or: I thought I knew her. Actually, I considered her an intense pest. She bugged me. She needed my help, and I wasn’t up to the task. See page 210 of the book, where she calls me, “Ann,” “a woman whose acerbic wit and tongue never seemed to sleep.”
Well, yah, you got me there, Cate! And yes, while loving you, even so, I did think of you, back then, as a rather intense pest.
I realize now that I didn’t know you, Cate, not at all. I had no idea, simply NO IDEA of what it was like to live inside that evident intensity; not even a glimmer of understanding, really, of all that you had been through, what your actual lived life was like: what is required to inspirit that tall, lithe, warrior’s body, that quivering skin, that original multidimensional communion with wild nature, the terrifying curiosity, sensory and extra-sensory sensitivities, those astounding adventures down rabbit holes leading to evil and degradation and violence — and all while still in your twenties!
But this is not just a read about unending dramas. It is Cate’s miraculous voyage into multidimensional healing and integration, as, little by little, cross time and space, she not only dared to bring all her “issues” up for review and re-experience them, sometimes multiple times, she did so with the express intent of embracing them, incorporating their gifts, becoming whole. She did this across the generations and even lifetimes, and, most remarkable: she did this alone. She did not even have Jung to guide her, as I did, in my own extended process of individuation.
However, at my suggestion, she did begin to work with her dreams, which, once she asked for their guidance, slammed into her like an endless freight train spewing symbolism and resonance. Her dreams mirrored and heightened the synchronicities in her waking life, letting her know by their confluence that yes, she was on her path, on her right track. Plus, as she realized more and more as time went on, she had her intuitive guidance; that had always been there, signaling when to stay and when to go, and in which direction, even when she knew not why or how; that guidance her own potent GPS, strong and unwavering, and though when young, she ignored it at her peril, as the decades rolled on she grew to trust it more and more — to the point where, now, in her sixties, she feels integrated, whole.
But I haven’t even mentioned the aspect of this book that most struck me, that shocked me like a series of jutting thunderbolts. That is the writing of it, Cate’s language, her deeply blooming and explosive wielding of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, in glorious and terrible profusion, erupting through the pages breathless; she’s just got to tell it true.
Time and again, I would find myself pausing, backing up, to re-read and savor a sentence, a paragraph, dwell here and there, within that mellifluous flashing space, astonished. This linguistic/existential proclivity is especially pronounced when she’s telling her-stories, the ones with the most terror in them: especially that infamous all-night saga in 1971 near Lovelock (perfect name, it turns out), Nevada, when as a 19-year old, she and two other equally naive hitchhiking friends, returning to Wyoming from a two-day lark in California, were picked up by a white van driven by a strange man who told stories of his war years in Vietnam. Droned on and on, he did, as young Cate, tensed and hunched in back, inner alarm bells clanging, hoped it would all turn out okay.
But it didn’t turn out okay. Soon, as if her worst fears were realized (and they were), the van was stopped on a road by the side of the interstate, and under the stare of the mad man’s gun, the three were digging their own graves with cold hands after having been raped. And that was just the beginning of the all-nighter. The ordeal goes on. And on. And on, holding my eyes tense on the page, my stomach in knots, my spirit thrilled with her capacity to tell this central, riveting tale, to tell it like it is, in all its fierce, uncompromising, wide-open horror.
They made it all the way through the night. They escaped alive. The seemingly endless, and deeply traumatizing ordeal ended only when — oh but I don’t want to tell you how it ended, because the story is told with such integrity that it must be read, or listened to, whole. Just as her story can now be told, whole, or at least as she has cycled through it to this moment when, the book finally finished, she is available for readings.
Anyone who has ever poked through the cultural trance, anyone who wants to understand the history of the dramatic projections of their own complex and mysterious inner lives, who wants to learn how to spell it out in exorbitant telling detail, and then integrate all that they have recovered, can and will benefit from this, as she names it, archetypal story of one woman’s coming into her own. Singular. Saved. And throughout, at crucial points, singing.