Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gulping Courage


Marcel Proust in Finding Time Again, translated by Ian Patterson, p. 111, writes:
 For the true reality of a danger is perceived only in that new thing, irreducible to what one already knows, which we call an impression and which is often... summed up in a line, a line which contains the latent potentiality of its distorting fulfillment...

In That Inner Circling Sun XI, I wrote:

I wanted fame after my death, not before,
but time has ripened both me and my words.
My vision self is ready to show herself
more widely, to take new risks. If any one
thing is getting lost in our time, it is
integrity, being an integer, a whole,
knowing leaf to stem to root what one
believes, who one is, and practicing
always careful attendance on the Deep Source
of our human wisdom.

In That Inner Circling Sun XXVI, I wrote:

Oak trees have a quality
of being there–simply, quietly. Their
canopy protects, shades, delights.
Their roots undergird my house, and,
in their aging, they let go the limbs they
no longer need, that don’t enhance
their present, glorious well-being,
their unique and faithful, even modest,


More fears than ever in my life before,
but more calm certainty, too. I gulp
courage like fresh air. So far I breathe,
my blood circulates normally, my
body remains nearly as resilient as
in my youth, and my spirit is more
aggressive, determined, unwilling
to concede defeat to the fleabites
of prudence that might prevent me
from fulfilling my vocation. Maybe
this is the sacrifice Proust talked
about when you become willing,
even ardent, about living your own
life all the way to the end for the sake
of your life’s work.

Suppose one day
he did ask me to marry him. I wouldn’t
say no. I’d say, "It’s too late. We’re
already married. Didn’t you notice?"
The inconceivable does sometimes
occur, but only if we pay very close
attention. So I give my fears only
cursory attention. I won’t be foolish,
but life is all risk anyway, and the
closer I walk to my own death, the
greater the risk. Perhaps my body
feels obligated to remind me. I take
note, but I remember all the things,
people, books, poems, loves I gave
birth to because I treated my fears
like ground mist and kept walking.
A wise woman once said, "Your
next fifty years will be better, if you
don’t put a lid on yourself." Twenty-
five of those years have nearly
passed me by, but I still have
twenty-five more to live and write,
if I’m lucky, and if I don’t blanche
at obstacles and detours. I know
how to follow a crooked path,
how to reassure my own soul as
well as the souls of others. Perhaps
that, simply, is why I’m still here.

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