Wednesday, May 11, 2016

when I curse you

You know the curse, "May you have an interesting life"?  My curse on people is, "You need a real problem."  Maybe even a real problem that you can't solve, that you just have to live through and make peace with.  I've had a few of those.

Here is a not a problem (I had a whole list of them at one time, but this was the most dire one, and the one that involved me, so it is left):  experiencing the love of your life's body dying.  It is sad.  It is a process.  But by gawd you had him.  And if you aren't trapped in the ego-state, if you evolve instead of involve, you always did/will/do "have" him.  "Have" there of course not being literal but being a shorthand for co-creating an experience in which you fully recognized the unseparatedness that simply is with the whole universe but is impossible to see in the human kingdom most of the time.  It is not a problem but another layer of gift.

Frankly most people who are suicidal need a real problem.  Why?  Because they need to get out of themselves.  I understand that that sounds un-compassionate but that is particularly because people don't understand what "compassion" is.  It is like "polite" is not the same as "kind" is not the same as "nice".  Polite is just customer service; a surface interaction.  "Polite" is asking, "How you doin' today?"  "Kind" is being interested when someone actually tells you.  A "nice" person gives you what you are looking for.  "Kind" is compassionate.  "Sympathy" is nice but singularly unhelpful.  Compassion does help.  Compassion feeds the hungry.  Compassion mows my MILs yard even tho I think mowing is the most wasteful and stupid act in the world and she is incapable of appreciating me doing it for her.  Compassion doesn't make me feel good in the end, or her feel good in the end; compassion just gets the job done.

I have long seen that humans evolved to deal with real problems; real, life threatening, problems.  And to accept that not every problem can be fixed.  Food.  Shelter.  Survival.  Death.  But modern life presents us with few, most usually no as in zero real problems, and the illusion that what we do view as a problem needs to be fixed.  So we pretend that things that aren't real problems are problems, react with the same vehemence, try to get other people to see them with the same intensity.

When I get very anxious, when I feel lost, betrayed, unappreciated, a failure, whatever, it is difficult to remember the lessons of real problems: that you walk, and you get through them, and you get to the other side.  And that what someone else thinks, what someone else does, even what ultimately happens, makes no difference at all.  "Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually?"

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.
West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
Copyright ©:
Mary Oliver


CG said...

yes, I understand very well, even as I struggled to write this, that I might very well regret having written it. It doesn't matter what happens? Well yes it does. But it also doesn't. And you just have to be able to hold both of those at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Even if you wind up regretting it, that's not your problem.

CG said...

At least, it doesn't qualify as a "problem", of anyone's. You, however, qualify as a chicken shit posting anon.