When it is over

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

~ Mary Oliver

wandering-on-the-beach-

Our valley

‘We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.”

~ Philip Levine

beautiful-valley

American smooth

“We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
requiring restraint,
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony,
one learns to smile through,
ecstatic mimicry
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
smiling, smiling),
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?)—achieved flight,
that swift and serene
magnificence,
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down.’

~ Rita Dove

Black-and-white-ballroom

 

Parallels

“Parallels are not what we think. They do not really exist except in a mathematical sense and except as an idea to play off. If it is difficult for anything in the real world to move in a true straight line, think of the impossibility of two things moving together in two parallel straight lines. In the human imagination a parallel world is not a world that replicates the one in which we live or is its exact opposite but one that turns and flows through many other possibilities and dimensionalities; all the while keeping company and somehow referencing the one it shadows. The parallel life is as unpredictable and indeterminate as the one that supposedly gave it its life.

When we speak of parallels we speak therefore of accompanying possibilities, like a life or a work, or a partner we did not choose, the refusal of an uncertain other life influencing this certain and familiar, present life; we evolve as much with the invisible parallel as we do with the visible present; as the years pass, our relationship to the path not taken, to the work or the person we did not choose changes as much as it does with the one we did. There are many deathbeds where the path not taken is far more real and present than the one actually chosen; the man or the woman abandoned, far more real then the wife or husband dutifully lived with for years.

There is also the question of depth; we may have taken a certain path but only half-heartedly, without conviction, sacrifice, bravery or sincerity. The underlying depth below our surface approach waits for us like an invitation and a reproach, an ocean seen from a cliff, another life, informing this life; on the one hand, a spur to boldness and a deeper participation when we realize how much in this life the other life breathes, or on the other hand; if distanced into the abstract, a source of shame, a life un-braved un-lived, misunderstood, no matter how much it whispered conspiratorially in our ears. A parallel life we never fully invited into our own.”

~ David Whyte ‘PARALLELS’ From CONSOLATIONS:The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

parallel_piers