It is possible, I suppose that sometime we will learn everything there is to learn: what the world is, for example, and what it means. I think this as I am crossing from one field to another, in summer, and the mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either knows enough already or knows enough to be perfectly content not knowing. Song being born of quest he knows this: he must turn silent were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display the small suns of their center piece, their – if you don’t mind my saying so – their hearts. Of course I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know? But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given, to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly; for example – I think this as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch – the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the daisies for the field. ~Mary Oliver “Daisies”
I spend much of my time acknowledging I don’t know what I wish I knew. Aging means becoming content with the mystery and ceasing to strive so much for what is not yet illuminated, but will soon be.
I don’t fight my dark ignorance like I used to — no longer cry out in frustration about what I don’t understand and stomp angrily through each bewildering day.
Instead I am grateful for what insight is given freely and willingly, what is plainly illuminated, to be touched without being picked and destroyed.
I realize, if only I open up just enough to the Sun, it is my own heart that is alit and ripening. That is how heaven must be and I remain content to stay planted where I am until I’m picked.
Sometimes I’d get mad because things didn’t work out well, I’d spoil a flapjack, or slip in the snowfield while getting water, or one time my shovel went sailing down into the gorge, and I’d be so mad I’d want to bite the mountaintops and would come in the shack and kick the cupboard and hurt my toe.
But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious. ~Jack Kerouac from The Dharma Bums
Little things can bug us. In fact, like a thistle covered with aphids which entices ants, we can be bugged on top of bugged.
Yet we still bloom. We are on notice there is joy to be found. What solace is this?
Though bugs exult in irritating us, flaunting our flawed flesh, it is a reminder of our vulnerability during our short stay on this good earth, bugs and all.
The rest is all glorious, right down to the thirsty roots that hold us fast.
A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world;
he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge.
Much writing today strikes me as deprecating, destructive, and angry.
There are good reasons for anger, and I have nothing against anger.
But I think some writers have lost their sense of proportion,
their sense of humor, and their sense of appreciation.
I am often mad, but I would hate to be nothing but mad:
and I think I would lose what little value I may have as a writer
if I were to refuse, as a matter of principle,
to accept the warming rays of the sun,
and to report them, whenever,
and if ever, they happen to strike me. ~E.B. White (on writing)
It becomes tiresome always feeling angry about what it is happening in the world,
to read and write nothing but words of frustration,
to rail against the meanness that surrounds us,
to push back the bully and seek a balance of perspective and insight.
When I need to feel something other than mad,
I walk as far as I can go,
look up, revel in the light and bask in its warmth.
I seek to accept what the sun has to offer
and tell about it
and my anger drains away,
flushed down a pipe
never to be seen again.
This has been a wild weather month on the outside:
heavy winds at times, damaging hale storms, snowfall covering the foothills, sweaty sunny middays, torrential unpredictable showers, ankle-deep mud.
And inside my cranium:
words that flew out too quickly, anxiety mixed with a hint of anger, too easy tears, searing frustration, feeling immobilized by the daily muck and mire.
The unpredictable month of May needs no explanation for acting like October, December and August within a span of a few hours. I am not so easily forgiven or unburdened. I end up lying awake at night with regrets, composing apologies, and wanting to hide under a rock until the storm blows over.
But in the midst of all the extremes, while the storm is raging, a miracle takes place:
it can only happen when brilliant light exposes weeping from heavy laid clouds, like the rainbow that dropped from heaven last week to touch the earth right in our backyard, only a few feet from our barn.
God cries too. His wept tears have lit up the sky in a promise of forgiveness.
He assures us: this storm too will pass.
Light wakes us – there’s the sun climbing the mountains’ rim, spilling across the valley, finding our faces. It is July, between the hay and harvest, a time at arm’s length from all other time…
It is the time to set aside all vigil, good or ill, to loosen the fixed gaze of our attention as dandelions let seedlings to the wind. Wake with the light. Get up and go about the day and watch its surfaces that brighten with the sun. ~Kerry Hardie from “Sleep in Summer”
During intense election seasons like this one, I find myself seeking safety hiding under a rock where moderates tend to congregate. There is no political convention for us with rousing impassioned speeches, photo-op embraces for the cameras, or balloons falling on our heads.
Extremist views serve to keep us at arm’s length, to make the opposition appear more clearly the “other.” There is no discussion of compromise, negotiation or collaboration as that would be perceived as a sign of weakness. Instead it is “my way or the wrong way” rather than “our way.”
There is no choosing a “lesser of evils” this time.
When evil is too great, it is never a choice.
And so it goes. Each election cycle brings out the worst in our “leadership” as facts are distorted, the truth is stretched or completely abandoned, unseemly pandering abounds and curried favors are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’m ready to come out from under the rock,
loosen my attention from campaign and election news
and find the Light on my face.
Thank God there is still a Light to shine in the darkness.
For half-an-hour he writes words upon a scrap of paper….
words in which the soul’s blood pours out, like the body’s blood from a wound. He writes secretly this mad diary,
all his passion and longing, his dark and dreadful gratitude to God, his idle allegories, the tales that tell themselves in his head; the joy that comes on him sometimes (he cannot help it)
at the sacred intoxication of existence… ~G.K. Chesterton in a letter to his fiancé
I can grumble with the best of the them, especially over the last few months of watching presidential election politics unfold at this particular time in our country’s history. There is camaraderie in shared grumbling, as well as an exponential increase in dissatisfaction as everyone shares their frustrations over how we have come to this.
But I know better. I’ve seen where grousing leads and I can feel it aching in my bones when I’m steeped in it. The sky is grayer, the clouds are thicker, the night is darker–on and on to its overwhelming suffocating conclusion.
I have the privilege to choose joy, to turn away from the bleak and simply seek and bathe in the warmth and wonder of each new day. Like an opportunistic cat finding that one ray of sun and melting into it, I can absorb and equip myself to be radiant as well. It is not putting on a “happy face” — instead joy adopts me, holds me close in the tough times and won’t abandon me. Though at times joy may dip temporarily behind a cloud, I know it is there even when I can’t feel it.