"Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has its own personality quirks which can easily be seen if you look closely. But there are so few days as compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it would be surprising if a day were not a hundred times more interesting than most people. But usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills the lost traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don't want to reach our last one for a long time. We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn't one I've been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly well-adjusted, as some days are, with the right amounts of sunlight and shade, and a light breeze scented with a perfume made from the mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak leaves, and the faint odor of last night's meandering skunk."
- Tom Hennen
"The world, whatever we might think about it, terrified by its vastness and by our helplessness in the face of it, embittered by its indifference to individual suffering - of people, animals, and perhaps also plants, for how can we be sure that plants are free of suffering; whatever we might think about its spaces pierced by the radiation of stars, stars around which we now have begun to discover planets, already dead? still dead? - we don't know; whatever we might think about this immense theater, to which we may have a ticket, but it is valid for a ridiculously brief time, limited by two decisive dates; whatever else we might think about this world - it is amazing."
- Wisława Szymborska
"We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.
Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day - the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?
It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we're miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn't seasoned just the way we like.
When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.
In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter."
- Mark Nepo
"I don't mind suffering as long as it's really about something. I don't mind great luck, if it's about something. If it's the hollow stuff, then there's no gift, one way or the other."
- Li-Young Lee
Place to Be
Days the weather sits
in the endless sky,
the clouds drifting by
The winter's snow,
but the faces, the people,
all the things they do
'spite of heaven and hell
or city hall -
Nothing's wiser than a moment.
No one's chance
is simply changed by wishing,
right or wrong.
What you do is how you get along.
What you did is all it ever means.
- Robert Creeley
"We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.
When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.
It's like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable."
- Mark Nepo
"I write to add my voice to the sum of voices, to be part of the choir. I write to be one sequin among the shimmering others, hanging by a thread from the evening gown of the world. I write to remember. I write to forget myself, to be so completely immersed in the will of the poem that when I look up from the page I can still smell the smoke from the house burning in my brain. I write to destroy the blank page, unravel the ink, use up what I've been given and give it away. I write to make the trees shiver at the sliver of sun slipping down the axe blade's silver lip. I write to hurt myself again, to dip my fingertip into the encrusted pool of the wound. I write to become someone else, that better, smarter self that lives inside my dumbstruck twin. I write to invite the voices in, to watch the angel wrestle, to feel the devil gather on its haunches and rise. I write to hear myself breathing. I write to be doing something while I wait to be called to my appointment with death. I write to be done writing. I write because writing is fun."
- Dorianne Laux
a poet reflects
"I do think that all of us think in poems. I think of a poem as being deeper than headline news. You know how they talk about breaking news all the time, that - if too much breaking news, trying to absorb all the breaking news, you start feeling really broken. And you need something that takes you to a place that's a little more timeless, that kind of gives you a place to stand to look out at all these things. Otherwise, you just feel assaulted by all of the tragedy in the world."
- Naomi Shihab Nye