to live in this world: three things

This morning.

My dreams left me in the wake of what some might call love, but fear appearing in place of (or maybe, more accurately, despite) the love. He said, “Because thinking about it hurts. So don’t think about it.” Because I hate that you are right. Because I still haven’t practiced enough so that I can approach it with confidence. Because I’ve never had to practice too much to be “just barely” good enough – piano, dance, written language. Because I’m afraid I never will be, in this, with you, for you.

I do try. I flirt with discomfort. I walk up to it. I look it in the eye, measuredly. I play games of truth or dare with it. They told me to, advised me to. I cling to this flirtation, something that as a woman I’ll admit I’ve spent my life mastering. Or else I would be unable to find hope left inside the discomfort.

I don’t really drink coffee often, though I work in a tangential industry. I limped slowly to get a coffee in the cold. Milky, hopeful like a little bird, warm in my hand. Awake. (Learning to be ready, when it doesn’t work for you, to let it go.)

This, like a little bird, waiting for me in my inbox (thank you, K):

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

Mary Oliver, In Blackwater Woods

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  1. Pingback: on how to live life “on fire with the same force that made the stars” | rose in midair

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