Derek Walcott: Feast on Your Life

Love After Love

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

(Derek Walcott, The Poetry of Derek Walcott, 2014)

And so I do.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

 

Not Running Short of Small Change

On this Monday morning I am reminded of  “small change, small wonders—the currency of my endurance and ultimately of my life” (Barbara Kingsolver).

I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to mark my six-week progress of my second hip-joint replacement. First there was the x-ray and then there was its viewing.

The surgeon and I chose a frontal view. The recently replaced hip joint includes an additional plate to heal a fracture at the top of the femur.

I was amazed at how large the plate is in relation to the small crack. Now I know why that area is sore from time to time. It is the plate. However, the soreness is nothing, not even on the list of my physical issues.

The surgeon assures me the plate can later be removed. The choice is mine. I think, why disturb such inner peace? Everything is in its place–balanced, mechanically fit. Such joy, and so much wonder.

This second hip replacement recovery was not an easy one; it bore little to no resemblance to the first. There were so many pivotal moments. Constant chaos. And then I came across these lines from a Robert Bly poem, “Things to Think”:

Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Line by line, I felt myself filling up rather than emptying out. Small change, these lines of poetry–the “currency of my endurance.” Stuff continued to go wrong but I did not run short of small change.

On this Monday, as I stared at the frontal view of my mechanically fit hips, I knew only gratitude. “I have taught myself joy, over and over again. It’s not such a wide gulf to cross, then, from survival to poetry” (Barbara Kingsolver).

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Terra Firma First

Today’s #LongView post explores life in the weeds. How else to appreciate the sky above? Click the link below to read more.

“Staying within the frame of my day—each moment its own scene–keeps me from being daunted by the obstacle that is that day’s path. Mine is not to ignore but to immerse myself in the experience.

It is the small stuff that enlarges my awareness.”


Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

What Speaks More Eloquently?

There is a sacredness in tears.

They are not the mark of weakness but of power.

They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues.

They are the messengers of overwhelming grief,

of deep contrition, of unspeakable love.

 (Washington Irving)

I am reminded of the Tao— “both named and nameless”— eloquent and mysterious in its reverence for life. Such is the “sacredness in tears” that “speaks more eloquently than 10,000 tongues.”

Tears fall into crevices long forgotten or never explored. Water is the giver of life; tears restore. What can be more sacred–more reverent–than these messengers of love and loss?

I’m quick to associate tears with grief and contrition–a cleansing–it is only in my later years that I know the joy of tears, their unspeakable love—for me, more nameless than named.

Such love is the source of sacredness to which all tears flow. It is a river of joy, the source of 10,000 things, knowable and unknowable.

“Mystery is the doorway to all understanding” is what I learned in the Tao. My imagination was and remains the only way through. Rarely, do I understand. But that’s not the point. Not anymore. The mere experience is enough.

It needs no name. There is no need to speak of it. It is the heart that fills up and spills over, the well of unspeakable love.

Empty yourself of everything.

Let the mind become still.

The 10,000 things rise and fall,

while the Self

watches their return.

They grow and flourish and

then Return to the Source.

Returning to the Source is

stillness, which is

the Way of Nature.

 Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching

 Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

No Need to Seek Joy

These last few days I have been seeking joy, as if it were a limited experience, a one-time offering. I’ve given it all kinds of attention without opening myself to the actual experience.

Why is that?

Truly, because I am unable to imagine joy. I am facing a moment of loss; I want to hold onto what is no longer. I am not yet ready to let the dam burst. Letting go is its own moment, and I find no joy in it.

Pema Chödrön tells me that joy is trusting my “fresh, unbiased nature.” In other words, work with the reality I have.

At the beginning joy is just a feeling

that our own situation is workable.

We stop looking for a

more suitable place to be.

(The Places That Scare You, Pema Chödrön, 2009)

Joy washes clean my current slate; I weave the loss into every fiber of my being. There is so much love, so much gratitude, and yes, joy. I discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.

It takes guts, Pema Chödrön says–“rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite”–it takes tears, too.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

No Joy without Tears

In a moment of joy, I am one with the wonder of being alive. Everything in my being fills up and spills over, including my tear ducts. It is an intimate moment, this experience. I am nowhere but present.

Brene Brown says that “joy, collected over time, fuels resilience.” Exactly.

Joy is a new life lens through which to view familiar worldly woes—as well as new ones–and not look away. Resistance to impermanence is a fool’s errand–that I have learned–yet, resistance is like a leitmotif to resilience.

Mine is to resist— and if possible stop–actions that add to pain and suffering anywhere to anyone. It is a peaceful practice, this resistance, for it is learning through joy rather than struggle. Sarah Ban Breathnach urges: “declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.”

Certainly, I cannot claim eagerness at all times. Like my energy, it sags. Yet, it is in the lowest of the low moments when joy appears most resilient, buoy-like even. It is more than enough, this joy, and my tears spill over as my heart opens.

I cannot imagine joy without tears.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Thaw of Thought

When I am tired the whole world is in winter, frozen or about to deep-freeze. Today, storm Stella is pounding its way through the Northeast. I can only imagine.

Here in the southeast there is a cold sunshine with wind, 40° temperatures. More than enough winter to freeze over my slough of despond. The ego skates freely, spiraling into a series of what if’s.

The thaw of thought seems unlikely. The warmth just isn’t there. Or is it?

Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious,

to believe that the world could still change for the better.

And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold

that one is tempted to say, “What do I care if there is a summer;

its warmth is no help to me now.” Yes, evil often seems to

surpass good by far. But then, in spite of us, and without

our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts.

One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw.

And so I still have hope.

From the Letters of Vincent van Gogh

As do I. Fatigue supports no free skater for long; the ego tires, too. Time’s breeze thaws bitter into sweet.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.