Thursday, December 31, 2009

the year in words, and words for the new year

Most everyone I've talked to has nothing much good to say about 2009. It was hard, in so many ways, for so many of us, self included. I try not to just whinge online about the challenges; I've had plenty, but so has everyone I know. I will be glad to say goodbye to 2009. I lost a lot of ground this year. Friends gone forever through fatal illness, and fatal despair, and others, (less permanently) distant with the economic necessity of "going where the jobs are". Work here in Oregon is still more scarce than would be helpful, and that has had pond-ripples of effects on me, and all else who live here. I'm still waiting to see any changes from the hopes raised in 2008, still working four jobs and not going to the doctor, still waiting to get my left hand repaired...

But I'm still here. Maybe for those who read my writings it sounds like life here is just peachy most of the time. In one of the many artist's blogs I read, Mimi Kirchner's Doll, she refers to her blog as being sort of a Christmas letter version of my life"... I wouldn't go quite that far, but I also try to focus mostly on the upside rather than on the angst. I learned very late in my life that it is actually helpful to shift focus like that, not to deny the difficulties, but to pay attention to the small joys, even if the only good in a day is the color of the sky, or the kindness of the old man on the bus who reaches to pull the signal cord when my hands are obviously full and my balance shaky, or the scent of the daphne in Karla's yard in springtime. I do what I can, with what resources I have, to move towards the world I want to live in, the world where we all can live together, with enough. Not excess, but enough.

This poem, from Marge Piercy's The Moon Is Always Female has been one of my touchstones for decades.
The perpetual migration

How do we know where we are going?
How do we know where we are headed
till we in fact or hope or hunch
arrive? You can criticize,
the comfortable say, you don’t know
what you want. Ah, but we do.

We have swung in the green verandas
of the jungle trees. We have squatted
on cloud-grey granite hillsides where
every leaf drips. We have crossed
badlands where the sun is sharp as flint.
We have paddled into the tall dark sea
in canoes. We always knew.

Peace, plenty, the gentle wallow
of intimacy, a bit of Saturday night
and not too much Monday morning,
a chance to choose, a chance to grow,
the power to say no and yes, pretties
and dignity, an occasional jolt of truth.

The human brain, wrinkled slug, knows
like a computer, like a violinist, like
a bloodhound, like a frog. We remember
backwards a little and sometimes forwards,
but mostly we think in the ebbing circles
a rock makes on the water.

The salmon hurtling upstream seeks
the taste of the waters of its birth
but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile
trek follows charts mapped on its genes.
The brightness, the angle, the sighting
of the stars shines in the brain luring
till the inner constellation matches the outer.

The stark black rocks, the island beaches
of waveworn pebbles where it will winter
look right to it. Months after it set
forth it says, home at last, and settles.
Even the pigeon beating its short whistling
wings knows the magnetic tug of arrival.

In my spine a tidal clock tilts and drips
and the moon pulls blood from my womb.
Driven as a migrating falcon, I can be blown
off course yet if I turn back it feels
wrong. Navigating by chart and chance
and passion I will know the shape
of the mountains of freedom, I will know.

My only resolution for 2010 is to be kindly to myself and others. That actually cover a lot of ground, probably more than I realise right now. I have a lot of intentions, for projects and adventures, but if I can simply remember to be kind and to pay attention that is what feels vital to me right now.

I always have hope for the future, perhaps foolishly, when common wisdom from a stranger on the train is that humans will not last out this almost new century. (I pointed out to him that the planet itself will not die, even if us naked monkeys aren't playing here any more...) But I intend to continue living what life remains to me in the ways that make the most of what I am capable of, with whatever ability I can muster. If needful changes can only be made by those who can afford them, only by those at the top of the economic food chain, then we really are doomed. And I can't live believing that.

Where so very much in life is determined by random luck, I persist in attempting to change what I can. I'll never be beautiful, or clever with interpersonal communication, or young again, but the one gift I was given at birth was to be able to make things.... and in the coming year I will make that my focus, to bring my handicraft to every single day. It might look to many like I already do that, but from the inside, looking at my life, 2009 was in many ways a kind of wasted year, where many opportunities slipped away unused. I could have done more with my time, and since time is all we ever have, and the remainder left is entirely unknown, I don't want to be wastrel any longer. Making things is a delight, even when it is not. It is my only good. And the patient faithfulness of inanimate objects will be and is my only legacy to the world.

Wish me luck, as I wish for all and any of you as well...

1 comment:

  1. You are, in ways way too numerous to list, a truly beautiful person!