Sonnets to Orpheus**
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.
Last year’s word evolved, as usual. From Focus, it turned to Surrender mid year. This made total sense in the grand scheme of things and in the end, I needed them both. Evolution is cool. I am all open for things changing into stuff way more awesome than what I could ever picture in my mind. This flexibility is timely too because I can bet a kidney that 2012 will bring many new places to visit, things to experience, big changes, a lot of learning and awesome adventures with amazing people. 🙂
So my 2012 Word for the Year is …
As much as I want to relish the peace and quiet Dec 31, 2011 has brought me, I can’t wait for extraordinary 2012 to roll in.
Wohoo! I am so excited I am about to spontaneously combust.
Happy New Year!
What’s your word for the year?
grateful slice: discovery and new beginnings
*wall art singapore subway
**[in In Praise of Mortality: Selections from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. and ed. by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, p. 117]
So it turns out the ber months of 2011 kicked my ass.
I didn’t know it too, until the other day, that I had been beaten to a pulp. That I was minced meat. Pulverized by many things all happening at once. By the time I realized it though, I was already lying in a coma, attached to a breathing machine. It took me awhile to figure it out too that I had been running on fumes for weeks. I mean, I knew things were off and considering everything that has happened the past few months, you’d be off too. Between a series of unfortunate events happening to people and a place I care about to the pressure of what needed to be done to secure the next steps for my future, AND THEN being able to secure it…it was cognitive dissonance. Also, I guess feeling like I SHOULD be extremely happy (about the latter) versus not feel joy inside (because of the former) made me feel guilty and that aggravated the internal situation. I chalked it up to separation anxiety and exhaustion and moved like an energizer bunny on crack to take care of everyone else but myself. It must have been some time between October and November when I switched to survival mode. Once December arrived, my spirit has been non-stop sending me red flags, morse code, smoke signals that I was not all right but I didn’t prioritize paying close attention to anything internal. Which brings us here.
Looking back now, I should have known. I’ve been down this road before. Depression is an old codependent familiar and my psyche’s M.O. is predictable. First, my attitude deteriorates. I get snappish, negative and not fun to be around. Then there’s this deep, inconsolable melancholy, and lack of gratitude and inner peace. I don’t think about the things I say to people. I forget the why of everything that is worth it to me. I become lethargic, apathetic, demanding, paranoid and insecure. I forget what makes me happy. Reject exercise and eat a lot of dumb food. Then I melt into my couch and disappear into the lives of doctors, dysfunctional room mates, talented outcasts, overdressed teens in the upper East side, wannabe models, reality TV characters on the D-list, promising designers and top chefs. This deepens my guilt and speeds up the spiraling. Eventually, my body gives. In this case, it collapsed into a 38.9 degree fever on Christmas day. It left me flat for 48 hours and finally, it was this inability to stay awake between crappy sitcom series that convinced me that my heart was waving the white flag.
Sigh. At least now I know.
Anyway, it is amazing what being sick for two days, writing, girlfriend-wisdom, self-knowledge and surrender can do for someone with a broken spirit. After a late night skype conversation with S (where she laughed at my melodrama) and a long lunch with Gng. C, I finally allowed myself to unravel and articulate what I have been feeling for weeks. I finally got pen and paper and started putting all my icky emotions to words. It was tough to say everything aloud to a friend and to myself; more painful to see it on paper but once I plucked it out of my system, I pulled the plug and started breathing on my own again. Also, not being able to blog about so many things has been torture. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Just too many delicate things to publicly talk about and the lack of readiness on my part, to share something so wonderful and important left me silent. But maybe Ani di Franco had the bigger clue. Silence is violence sometimes.
And so it goes.
Knowledge is power and timing is everything. Ironically, once I realized and admitted that I was not okay, that’s when I started to feel okay. Metanoia. Suddenly yesterday, after weeks of feeling like I was slogging through debris and flashflood mud, and where genuine laughter and smiles were few and far between, I found myself and my joy again. Simple things like seeing my best friends from abroad for lunch would bring tears to my eyes. The breath in yoga class quickly filled me with gratitude and bliss. The view of the sky and the clouds and the majesty of the urban landscape had the ability to once again leave me speechless and overjoyed. Language and photography and music and the thought of my future in a new place filled me with love, hope, compassion, passion and creativity. I am so happy to say that the emptiness is gone and in its place, love, all around. Ah, I knew I was back when I fell in love with yesterday’s simplicity. And why? Because I understand now. Because I finally have the words for what I have been feeling. Because I finally know what the hell is going on inside me. And that’s the best way to end a roller coaster year, isn’t it? To get your voice and your wits back. To claim this season of sadness and exhaustion, to embrace the essence of its impermanence, and just surrender. Because hello, the future is so damn bright, I have to wear shades!
I have forgiven the ber months for knocking the wind out of me and have forgiven myself for letting it happen. By doing that I have my peace and grateful heart back. Yay!
Thanks, G. For everything. Here’s to 2012. I welcome it wholeheartedly and excitedly.
by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
grateful slice: clarity and recovery
It’s been crazy the past few months and there are many things that can explain my silence. I will, in the next few days, attempt to tell the many stories I’ve been harboring and gaining distance from to be able to tell them well, but right now I am basking in my own silent space. Just enjoying the utter quiet before the Eve and the solitude before the mayhem. I am grateful for days like these. It’s really what makes rest possible and recovery authentic. Thanks, G.
Anyway, here’s a self portrait slideshow sandwich between two great poems. Have a Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂
S e l f – p o r t r a i t
by Edward Hirsch
I lived between my heart and my head,
like a married couple who can’t get along.
I lived between my left arm, which is swift
and sinister, and my right, which is righteous.
I lived between a laugh and a scowl,
and voted against myself, a two-party system.
My left leg dawdled or danced along,
my right cleaved to the straight and narrow.
My left shoulder was like a stripper on vacation,
my right stood upright as a Roman soldier.
Let’s just say that my left side was the organ
donor and leave my private parts alone,
but as for my eyes, which are two shades
of brown, well, Dionysus, meet Apollo.
Look at Eve raising her left eyebrow
while Adam puts his right foot down.
No one expected it to survive,
but divorce seemed out of the question.
I suppose my left hand and my right hand
will be clasped over my chest in the coffin
and I’ll be reconciled at last,
I’ll be whole again.
|by Adam Zagajewskitranslated by Clare Cavanagh|
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter half my day passes. One day it will be half a century. I live in strange cities and sometimes talk with strangers about matters strange to me. I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich. I see three elements in music: weakness, power, and pain. The fourth has no name. I read poets, living and dead, who teach me tenacity, faith, and pride. I try to understand the great philosophers--but usually catch just scraps of their precious thoughts. I like to take long walks on Paris streets and watch my fellow creatures, quickened by envy, anger, desire; to trace a silver coin passing from hand to hand as it slowly loses its round shape (the emperor's profile is erased). Beside me trees expressing nothing but a green, indifferent perfection. Black birds pace the fields, waiting patiently like Spanish widows. I'm no longer young, but someone else is always older. I like deep sleep, when I cease to exist, and fast bike rides on country roads when poplars and houses dissolve like cumuli on sunny days. Sometimes in museums the paintings speak to me and irony suddenly vanishes. I love gazing at my wife's face. Every Sunday I call my father. Every other week I meet with friends, thus proving my fidelity. My country freed itself from one evil. I wish another liberation would follow. Could I help in this? I don't know. I'm truly not a child of the ocean, as Antonio Machado wrote about himself, but a child of air, mint and cello and not all the ways of the high world cross paths with the life that--so far-- belongs to me. grateful slice: poetry and the quiet before Christmas eve
I stumbled upon Sarah Kay, her poetry and her TED talk about the same time last year and have since shared her work with whomever I can. She leaves the hungry young poets in my Grade 7 class speechless, and me, well, she has me inspired to always write about only what is true, with a small letter t, to me. Here’s her newest TED talk. Nice way to end an awesome weekend.
grateful slice: Sarah Kay and her poetry
I’ve been silent for a reason; a good one, I promise. Soon will come soon enough. You just need to be patient.
grateful slice: poetry and photography
Last year, I asked my Grade 8 students to think about and respond to this question over and over again: Is it worth it?
At first they thought it was a ‘what’ and ‘why’ question, only to consider how it was so much more about when.
I don’t need to fight ALL the time.
Don’t need to exhaust my voice over EVERYTHING.
Because when the gas runs out, the soul dies.
Anyway, here’s a short video from one of Oprah’s Master classes. She talks about her journey to surrendering and the space she needed to have to live a life of letting go.
Because it seems like, this is what I have to do right now.
grateful slice: choosing when well
i go to this window just as day dissolves when it is twilight(and looking up in fear i see the new moon thinner than a hair) making me feel how myself has been coarse and dull compared with you, silently who are and cling to my mind always But now she sharpens and becomes crisper until i smile with knowing -and all about herself the sprouting largest final air plunges inward with hurled downward thousands of enormous dreams by ee cummings
grateful slice: No school Mondays