The randomly-chosen word of the day is world from Stand Still Like the Hummingbird by Henry Miller. I’m going to offer the entire paragraph that it came from because it’s so fantastic. It will serve nicely as today’s quote:
Frankly, if we must play with this idea of saving the world, then I say that in making an aquarelle which pleases me–me, not you necessarily–I am doing my share better than any cabinet minister with or without portfolio. I believe that even His Holiness, the Pope, little as I believe in him, may be doing his part too. But then, if I include him I must also include such as Al Capone and Elvis Presley. Why not? Can you prove the contrary? (p. 83)
- I cannot prove the contrary. In fact, I think it’s true that we’re all doing our best, all learning from one another, all have our part to play in each other’s unfolding. The world certainly doesn’t need saving but we do. We need more love and appreciation and less condemnation. More patience and tenderness. More play and delight.
This poem will do quite nicely as a companion to these ideas. It came to me via Rob Brezny. It’s called Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert. I love the deep embrace of both sorrow and delight here; this is something I can relate to.
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
It is these small moments in the world that bring meaning to me, that make the sorrows worth it. Like this morning, when I woke up, I padded outside wearing only my black nightgown to take out the recycling. It was dark and prickles of cold moved up my legs. Jupiter and Venus were brilliant and I felt so small and big all at the same time. It was too beautiful not to share it so, when my daughter’s alarm went off, I asked if she would join me outside. We went up, wrapped in our fleece blankets and let the stars kiss our hearts for a few moments. It’s hard to feel anchored when you’re full of awe but somehow, in that brief moment, I did.
PS, Yes, that’s a real sunflower and yes, I really rolled a 6.