Begin Again (again)
For every reading, and there have been many, this poem has given me the gift of a different line, and no line, and really no stanza, no matter how many times I've read it, has ever felt old or tired, once revealed. The gift of a really good line of poetry is both easy and difficult to come by, partly because there are so many good words in the world, and partly because you have to be looking to see them. This morning, midway through a first class huff of the it's too hot, it's too cold, nothing fits, I'm so hungry, I have no appetite, where in god's name are my glasses variety, I found the last line of the third stanza: none of these will bring disaster.
Here are the things I am most afraid of right now: losing my mother, missing the window of figuring out what I should be doing with my life (and doing it), realizing that thing was teaching and beating myself up over not pushing harder to make it possible long term, finding a piece of wayward fruit in my salad, and never sharing anything I've written again for fear that I'm not, and never was, as good of a writer as I wanted to be. Not all heavy hitters, but it only takes one mandarin wedge to turn a lovely salad into a sweet nightmare, so though nowhere near the others, it's still a frightening prospect. In the end, I fear the not doing as much as the doing, so I'm left in a battle of wills, and no one is as stubborn as I am.
Here are the things I know to be true even though I am afraid: that none of these will bring disaster if they happen or not, that life will continue on as it did before with a few more bumps and bruises, that though I cannot currently define the term to my own liking, I have been wildly successful in love, work, family, and friendship, and if I choose never to publish this webpage or share these words outside my screen, I will still know them to be true, and they will still call for action.
And so, with so much fear of loss, and so much worry over what might be, I turn instead to what is, and I'm heading off the loss at the roots. Today I am losing the fear of publishing this page I've been puttering at for so months that you might wonder if I built the code from scratch (I didn't). Today I am adding images of the pages I make to remember life week by week, the good and the bad, a practice that turned me from a messy art journaler into a full fledged scrapbooker (there, I said it, connotations be damned). Today I am admitting that I have no idea what's next, but that I am actively trying to figure that out, and that whatever the answer ends up being, I am relatively sure that words will get me there, both my own and those of others. Today, I am thinking of Elizabeth as if we are friends on a first name basis, and I am lingering on the last line of her poem, The Bight, a line shared on her tombstone: "All the untidy activity continues, awful but cheerful." And I think, there are so many things I do well, and so many things I do just shy of well, and so many things I am really just wretched at, and so many things I have yet to learn, that as I search for what's next, I will take comfort in the fact that being just slightly above average at some things makes the world a bit more possible. It's messy and muddy, this life, and the middle we all so often inhabit is complicated, but oh, even when awful it can be cheerful. Absurdly, ridiculously, nonsensically cheerful. I'll take it.