Life is a four letter word
So is love……………..
Life is a four letter word
So is love……………..
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky….” ~ John Jacob Niles
These are the first words to a Christmas carol that was beautifully rendered by Niles. His words are magical in that they capture two solitary activities: wondering and wandering.
Wandering is a pastime that has its own rhythm. True wandering is not valid if you are merely strolling to the letter box to post mail or to the store to get some milk. The purpose of wandering is to roam with no purpose other than to wonder. And wondering is an amazing and active thing—it clears out the labyrinth of worry in your mind—putting your thoughts in order while marvelling at the curiosity that is life.
When I was about ten I was allowed to wander from my little house in the country to the creek, or as we called it then, the “crick”. There was no purpose in going to the crick other than to sit on its banks and ponder; or throw stones in the still waters and watch concentric circles form and then disappear. It was on those wanderings that I solved a lot of my problems.
Under the open country sky, I was free to let my thoughts form, to mull them around, then let them go like a kite set free to wander the earth at will.
My goal is to return to my wandering and wondering days—days that seemed endless; days when imagination found animals and objects in the clouds; princes in frogs; freedom in gliding across a frozen pond in new skates; and the thrill of opening a new book—a new adventure.
I wonder as I wander in my mind….and sometimes my problems just disappear for a while and I am a creature of the earth; a soul bound by nothing; a brown bird pecking at the snow for a seed, and finding one, fulfilled.
Today’s prompt from Michelle at WordPress: “Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.”
This is a bit off the cuff but I took up the challenge and this is what I came up with in 15 minutes:
If she was dead, why was she in this classroom listening to a professor drone on about the linguistic beauty of the workaday language of English? She had often been told when she was alive that when you went to hell you were trapped in the circumstance you hated most on earth. And the circumstance she hated most on earth was being bored. And doing paperwork. She was bored but at least the paperwork, which had been her nemesis when she was alive was not present—so maybe, just maybe she was not in hell. The prof wore a belt with a peace sign buckle. He had wild gray hair and a suede vest—why was she back in linguistics class at university listening to Dr. Ivy? And why was she in her least favourite class?
Cecelia had crashed into the back of a semi that jack-knifed on a foggy day in September, 2010. Even if she had seen it, there was no way to avoid the massive truck. She was returning from an unsuccessful business trip to Toronto and was eager to get back to home and hearth. The midday sun had been bright, the radio loud, and the trip slowly becoming a memory until she reached Cambridge. A grey curtain of heavy fog descended on the 401. It was not just a haze—she was caught in clouds of billowy pewter. She was disoriented—but she continued on in her quest to get home. She knew that she should pull off the road but she did not know what she would be pulling into.
Then she was no longer in the car. She had been escorted to a ledge where she was allowed to see through the fog to the chaos below. Her body was slumped over the steering wheel………..
In this tale of death come to life, Cecelia gets to relive what she often thought of as the best part of her life—her days at university. But relived again with the wisdom of decades behind her, would those days turn out to be the great time she remembered, or was the life that had been taken away from her not so bad after all.
In this novel of second chances, the main character gets a chance to do what many of us dream of doing—returning to our glory days. Was she reincarnated? Was it a miracle? Was it all a dream? Or was she really dead?
“The Signature of all Things” is Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough—but there is a passage on page 447 that particularly spoke to me. The main character, Alma, wrote this in one of her research papers:
“Those who are ill-prepared to endure the battle for survival should perhaps never have attempted living in the first place. The only unforgivable crime is to cut short the experiment of one’s own life before its natural end. To do so is a weakness and a pity—for the experiment of life will cut itself off soon enough, in all our cases, and one may just as well have the courage and curiosity to stay in the battle until one’s eventual demise. Anything less than a fight for endurance is a refusal of the great covenant of life.”
These words may sound a little too “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” but I do think she has chosen the right combination of words to get us through almost anything: courage and curiosity. Speaking for myself, curiosity is the thing that gets me through, around, beyond, and past life’s hardships. My curiosity feeds the courage I need to endure the not so good stuff—so I can enjoy the moments of joy, of which, if a tally were taken, there are many.
Alma’s life is not an easy one, but it is interesting, adventurous, intelligent, and worth reading about. I found the book opened up whole new territories for me—from the scientific to the workings of the mind.
When my bootstraps get a bit worn, I read these words, and they help me (metaphorically) get back up on the horse.
Do you have any words or passages that help you out when the joy of life seems to have taken a vacation without you?
What the hell? Seriously? Really? You are a piece of work. Either I’m worrying about you in the future or bitching about you from the past. You think you’re all that and a bag of microwave Bacon-Flavored Pork Rinds. Well, you can’t break me, you sneaky sonofabitch. Screw you.” -by Darla from She’s a Maineiac.
Today Darla wrote a bunch of letters to a bunch of people but this is the one I liked best—cause I am feeling a bit like she does about the whole life situation. And I am as defiant as she is—and determined not to let it break me either.
Thanks Darla, who by the way has the best sense of humour around. If you do not already follow her I would if I were you.
Will you join me in my defiance of the downs in life, and celebration of the ups?
How many times have we heard “All things in moderation” and thought that it is a philosophy we should acquire? Perhaps we have been sold a bill of goods. Moderation is not particularly colourful—within its barriers are the words restraint, control, reasonableness, temperance, balance, and fairness ~ and while none of these things are bad in themselves, they have a blandness about them—and hold us back.
Not that at times we should not be held back and show a little restraint, temper a situation, reach for fairness~ but where is the passion, the robustness, the joy? There seems to be little joy in moderation— illustrated quite vividly in one of its meanings from the Encarta Dictionary: “the limiting, controlling, or restricting of something so that it becomes or remains moderate.”
We cannot always be fiery and passionate, but I think that I would like to change the saying “All things in moderation” to “All things in vigour”. We should not grasp at mediocrity, settle for compromise; there is one life and one life only and we should hold on to it with all our strength.
Approaching life with verve and drive will force moderation back into the shadows where it should be taken out on occasion, looked at, considered, then cast off. I was inspired to write about moderation by Dr Bill who had the following quote on his blog today. I separated each sentence of the quote to make it more important, to give it more punch:
It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise.
It’s the devil’s dilemma.
It’s neither doing nor not doing.
It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy.
Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand.
It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die.
Moderation…is lukewarm tea, the devil’s own brew.”
~ Dan Millman from Way of the Peaceful Warrior
There is a time and a place for moderation I suppose, but not in my life. I appear to be moderate but it is merely a guise. What about you?
“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting, and doing the things historians usually record; while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happens on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.” ~ Will Durant
I opened a favourite book of mine, Storycraft, by Jack Hart, and by pure chance found this quote on page 142 of Chapter 9. Now you can open a book at random and not find anything of consequence. This time I opened a book at random and found a quote that pretty well sums up all of the important things that need to be summed up.
It is the everyday, the lives that we live, the families we make (and family is a big word–you do not have to be related by blood to be family), and the things we do and create that are important. Like a headline ripped from the paper–civilization is given short shrift if you only look at the extremes.
The “story of civilization is what happens on the banks” in our everyday lives. That is the interesting stuff. Leave the other stuff to historians and the headlines. (Not all historians keep account of the killing, stealing, and shouting–Will Durant is himself a historian).
Bliss is what happens on the banks–what do you think?
Starts out slowly
Rising from bed
Finding no reason to hurry
Luxurious time to
Sip a coffee rather than gulp it
Read the paper rather than just glance at the headlines
Eat something that takes time to prepare
Rather than another bowl of instant oatmeal
The day to don old clothes
That are good to putter in
Maybe make a list or two
A run to the grocery store
And certainly a turn at the liquor store
For that libation of choice to end the day
Pet the dog, stroke the cat
Meet with friends or read a book
Listen to music
A day that does not demand much
A day to replenish
Replete with a night of slumber unfettered by worry~
That is the Saturday of my dreams
The Saturday of my bliss…………….
What blissful thing are you doing this Saturday?
Not one to back down from a challenge–here is my offering for Day 4 of Poetry month:
Poetry takes a fragment of life
And makes it live.
Words give meaning to
the steaming cup of coffee
charged with starting another day;
the newspaper unfolded and read
dispersing knowledge needed or not;
to the wash on the line
soldiered together with clothespins;
the tomatoes on their vines
climbing to reach the sun;
the work day with its busy-ness
the evening closing in
to end another day.
Resting our weary bodies
Fragments of life.
Warning: This is not a work that has deep meaning—it treats its subject matter with barely a nod to metaphor, simile, or some of those other devices you are supposed to employ if you are a true poet. And I am not sure why I made Procrastination male and not female—this “poem of sorts” just chose its own gender.
Yes, I am an apologist for my work. I am a writer–if we did not apologize for our work then we would have to take criticism to heart. It is a defense mechanism and without it, most writers would be weaponless in a world without heart (not really–I just wanted to use a bunch of Ws). Without further ado, or apology (well there may be one more)–my poem du jour:
Procrastination: My Friend
I have fought with procrastination
All my life
I have fought him with every fibre of my being
I am tired of fighting
And have decided to make him my best friend.
At times he has been the bane of my existence
A nuisance, a blight, a curse, and a pest
Saying: “I do my best work at the last minute”
Or: “You cannot rush perfection”
And even: “We are not here for a long time; we are here for a good time”.
I have taken his advice on too many occasions
To my detriment for sure
But I am seeing that Procrastination is not all bad
He may taunt me, cause my hair to turn grey, and give me hives
But many times when I procrastinate
The problem goes away on its own
Or I come up with a better way to deal with it
And I am saved wasted time and effort.
I know that procrastination and I will always do battle
But I am at peace now, and our battles will be short
as he whispers in my ear: “We are not here for a long time; we are here for a good time.”
A timeless if seemingly frivolous message
That makes traversing this “vale of tears” a “walk in the park”.
Again apologies for the clichés—but they just seemed to work. And that is what a cliché is all about when you write a poem in less than half an hour.
Can procrastination be bliss, once you have come to terms with it. Or is it always a blight?