I took a long walk this afternoon and trudged through deep snow, snow up to my knees, and I didn’t realize just how out of shape I was and how challenged I was by the exercise until I made it back to shoveled-territory and felt the easy of walking without sinking.
Sometimes we don’t realize how bad it is until we aren’t in it quite so deep anymore. Which makes the deepness feel all the more endless.
There are times I can write myself out of the deep. There are other times I choose not to write. When healing is happening in my body, and my mind isn’t able to catch up, writing feels like a disservice to my healing. If my body could write the traumatic energy that is being released without my mind passing judgements, perhaps I would write out of the deep snow.
For now, I follow what is moving.
There is a water bottle that is made of metal
and is red and dented and a bit lopsided
and I am not made of metal
and I am not red
but I am dented
and a bit lopsided
and I wonder
if the water bottle
can still hold water.
Can it pour?
How cruel to be this aware all the time. That siren. That strange glance. This unexpected sunset.
I think this poem has already been written. A thousand poets have said it in a thousand different ways in a thousand different languages over a thousand years.
This beautiful agony of being awake.
I want to go to the library and check out all the books. I know I won’t read all the books. But I never read all the books I check out, even when it’s a more reasonable number than “all the books.” Which isn’t even a number, really.
I want to check out all the books in the library and lie them out on the floor of my apartment (in stacks, because my room is very small) and I want to make intentional piles. Books I wish I had time to read. Books I really will make time for. Books I wish I myself had written. Books I wish had never been written at all. Books that look like they might cause me to experience an enlightened spiritual state and stay in it for the rest of my life. Books that genuinely look like they might end white supremacy and homophobia and genocide and depression and sexism and racism and environmental destruction. Books that were written only to make money.
These are just a few of the many categories I will make if I ever get around to checking out all the books in the library.
Woody would sit at his typewriter for hours and bang at the keys much to the dismay of some of his housemates and women and children and he didn’t give three and a half shits because he would bang those keys and then he would sometimes even throw those pages away he didn’t care it wasn’t about production or fame so here I am at my macbook wishing it was a typewriter and wishing I didn’t care what came out of this writing session and wondering if we have writers these days who still write on typewriters and whether or not they throw out their work just because they are in a bad mood that day and I know I have a lot to say and I know it matters how I say it but goddam it feels good sometimes just to pretend I am banging on a typewriter and that in about five seconds I will pull the page out and crumple and throw it in the wastebin because hell it never really was about fame or success or getting a degree so how did it become that
Mary Oliver takes a notebook outside and walks in the woods every morning and jots down what she sees. Then she goes back home and looks at what she jotted and turns the jots into a poem.
I would like to try this method, but I wonder, does she write as she walks? Or does she stop every once and a while to reflect? Does she write standing up or does she find a boulder or a dead tree branch or a dry patch of pine needles and plop down?
What about the winter? Does she have special gloves that her pen doesn’t slip through? Or does she write with a pencil?
I shouldn’t assume that Mary Oliver writes with a pen.
“The world is filled with people like Shams of Tabriz but where are the men like Rumi to see the truth in them?” –Fundamentals of Rumi’s Thought by Sefik Can, page 67.
I think I must pass many wise people when I go throughout my day. Wise with a capital “W”. Wise about the ice on the pond and the gunshots and the meditation pillow and the swastikas and all the police who are not in prison.
I think I must pass many wise people, and yet we all walk so fast these days. How can I even have time to begin to see the truth in them?
It is 4pm in Western Massachusetts in February and
the sun is shining
and it is 33 degrees outside.
Let me repeat that.
It is 33 degrees outside.
Let me clarify in case you are confused.
I am used to relief
Don’t get me wrong.
There is still a lot of snow.
But after so many
and below-zero days
and grey skies
relief flows like water
pulled by gravity.
I have not been able to motivate myself
to walk out my door
into the cold
when I pushed myself
to do so today
I felt I was breathing for the first time.
Oh what a joy
to watch my feet disappear
in the snow
to hear icicles dripping
and to think maybe there are green buds in me
about to burst through
just as there are in the earth
unseen but present and ready.