Friday, October 21, 2005

Another Word from Barry Lopez case that first one didn't get your soul churning:

(At the end of his journey)

"I looked out over the Bering Sea and brought my hands folded to the breast of my parka and bowed from the waist deeply toward the north, that great straight filled with life, the ice and water. I held the bow to the pale sulphur sky at the northern rim of the earth. I held the bow until my back ached, and my mind was emptied of its categories and designs, its plans and speculations. I bowed before the simple evidence of the moment in my life in a tangible place on the earth that was beautiful"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Leaning Into The Light

I returned the voluminous Arctic Dreams to the library yesterday. But not before committing to computer memory the author's reflections following a walrus hunt:

“No culture has yet solved the dilemma each has faced with the growth of a conscious mind: how to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s own culture but within oneself . If there is a stage at which an individual becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”

-Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh No, She's Right.

In reading Heather Lende's book, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, I came across something Annie Dillard said in her book, The Writing Life :

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing."

This is striking to me; the simple, straight-forward, clean logic of it. Why is an apparently self-evident truth so difficult to grasp? How can I repeatedly convince myself that the whole of my life will be greater than the sum of its parts?

I keep doing the same things and expecting different results. I choose the same sops and diversions every day, and every evening I swear I'll make tomorrow different.

I've lived long enough to know that change doesn't often descend like a blinding light on the road to Damascus. Most of us have to get there by the sweat of our brows.

I'm restless lately, scared. All the plans I had at ten or twelve or sixteen, lay fallen by the wayside, left to wither in the hot sun or snatched up in the beaks of parabolic birds.

I don't know when I became so weak.

I found a box of letters in the garage yesterday; all the letters I wrote my husband before we were married and were living several hundred miles and two states apart. I wouldn't know that girl if I met her and I'm sure I wouldn't like her. I browsed through the letters, read a few, reluctantly. The only more embarrasing experience I can remember is watching my wedding video.

I was barely nineteen when we married and between the ages of sixteen and eighteen when I wrote those letters, so I should be fair and give youthful naivete its due allowance.

The thing that wont leave me alone though, like a rug I can't shake out, is how happy she was, how self-possessed, how sure. And kind. Granted, she hadn't seen the world yet and knew as much about that life as a baby in utero knows about life outside the womb. But I give her a full ten points for sincerity.

I can't imagine anything less like me, now.

About eight years ago two things happened pretty much simultaneously. I stopped trusting God and I found out abruptly that I couldn't trust myself. That's when everything started to slip. It was the first time I ever yelled at a child. And he was mine.

It's hard to appreciate how far little steps can take us off the path. But I have to believe little steps can bring me back, too.

I'm going to pull out my compass now and head back. I don't know where I came from, so I can't retrace my steps. But when I am very still, I think I can feel my heart leaning True North.