A poet like Dickinson has the enviable ability to load a verse with meaning so deep and so heavy you wonder how such simple words can bear the weight.. Her gatherings of commonplace words so often made to shine by their careful ordering, carry a grief so weighty you wonder the words don’t crumble beneath the despair.
This simple little verse almost sags in the middle with the enormity of her existential reflection!
I wanted to put it out there because I think it’s something that every one of needs to have asked and explored. Not in a naval gazing way, more in a back-of-the-mind type of way.
Because I think it’s sometimes good to widen my frame of reference. To briefly place my life on the time / space continuum. It’s sometimes good to feel humbled by the stars. To put my pain and suffering in the context of world history.
And sometimes, it’s good to rethink the areas of my life I can control; and the areas that I can’t. Personally I find it useful to remember that life is short, and wanting control over something doesn’t grant me the right to it. More than that, I know that there are things WITHIN my power, that I need to take control of, rather than deny or disown.
THAT is the hard thing. That’s where Dickinson’s innocent thought is a smack in the face!
Emily Dickinson on Hope
Dickenson knew what it was to feel despair, yet she writes with such tenderness about hope. As an inpatient, I made this to hand on my wall.
An interlude in my journey
Sometimes we have ‘enforced moments’… And they can be beautiful too! Don’t get me wrong… I huff and sigh at the flat – cap -wearing old bloke whose milometer hasn’t pointed to 50 for at least a decade. And who hasn’t felt the sheer rush of triumph as they got served quicker than the person they picked as a ‘marker’ in a different supermarket queue…
But honestly, most days will contain an ‘enforced moment’ (or two) and instead of the tension at the steering wheel, or the unhappy shuffling and (internal) eye rolling when someone takes ‘too long’, we’d do better to discipline ourselves to look for some beauty and to take the moment as a gift. After all, what’s the hurry really? We’ve got our whole lives.
A moment of sheer beauty. I snapped this pic of the unfathomably blue sky, a backdrop for little daubs of white floss.
Poet W.H. Davies wrote the poem, ‘Leisure’, asking
‘what is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?—No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.’
It’s simple message stands the test of time. Life is a series of moments. In recovery, some of those moments feel like the jagged edge of the ripping saw, others like the sharpened tip of the sabre. That makes it all the more important to take the time to ‘stand and stare’. Catch the moments of purity, of otherness.
Mindfulness, CBT, DBT, NLP (acronyms on a postcard to…) I’ll take poetry over any of them.