I don’t think Mr. Milosz would mind that I borrowed his words. They have always touched me in the past. Today, I touched them.
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.
~ Czeslaw Milosz
IT’s funny listening to my mom talk about her life. Eighty-six years. And as I listen, I laugh at some of her stories. Some of the others make me sad. But I think what makes me saddest is that so many of her decisions in life were based on fear. Fear of losing something. Fear of not doing the “right” thing. (whatever that means). And according to her, she lived a full life. It’s only when I compare it to what it might have been had she not been afraid that I get truly tearful. Had she done what she really wanted. Had she said what she meant. More often. From her heart and not her head. Had she not been so cautious. Had she taken more chances. And then I realized, the other night, as she was giving me a piece of advice, that I wasn’t sad for her at all. But for me. What she was telling me to do summed up her whole life. And mine, to a certain degree. I politely rejected the advice. But it was like a lightning bolt. And a warning. And if it’s not too late, I’d like to start by living in a place between right and wrong. How can there be fear in a place like that. I think I’ll like it there.
I think I must have been born on a foggy day. My soul is peaceful there. It feels like the one place where the world is larger yet more intimate. Mysterious but safe. And there are no words in the fog. Within the veil. They simply don’t belong. I can hear my breathing, but that’s it. Even my thoughts stay quiet. There is no room for reasoning or whining or conclusions of any kind. Maybe I am born on every foggy day.
“Something about making art has to do with overcoming things, giving us a clear opportunity for doing things in ways we have always known we should do them.” ― David Bayles Art&Fear Advertisements
I know there’s a saying about missing the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest or something. I never was much good at those sayings. And behind the clever little words is supposed to be this incredibly profound meaning… that someone has summed up in a few clever little words. Anyway, I think I’m doing it. I am missing the forest for the trees this time. I’m looking and waiting and waiting some more for this life to start. And I’m working around and running smack into obstacles. Trees. Life. And I find myself wishing these days away… so I can get to the forest. Instead of seeing that this IS the forest. With these beautiful trees. Life. And I’m in it. It’s here. Around me. Bigger and taller than I’d imagined. Softer and harder. With little winding paths. And fog and branches so that sometimes, it’s a little unclear… and scratchy. Wow. This is the forest.
Yesterday, I was in bed staring out the window at the fog. Just staring. And rather than grabbing my camera, I just laid there. By ten o’clock when it finally burned off, I felt a little regret, but not much. This morning, I woke up to more fog. Despite my sluggishness, I got dressed, picked up my camera, one lens and went in search of some beauty. Reluctantly. And then I was there. In it. In its silence. In its grace.
I’ve always seen the fog as a gift. There is a beauty in it that is unmatched. It’s a shroud. It feels safe and exciting at the same time. I love that. On a bigger scale, I want my relationships to be like that. And on an even bigger scale, life. I want life to be like that. Right now, it’s teetering on the edge of both. Changes, right? Forcing me to find that balance.
There’s a line from a song, “… if you’ve never stared off into the distance then your life is a shame.” (Counting Crows) I’ve done a fair amount of staring off into the distance. Especially in the last few years. Maybe too much staring. Not enough doing. Too much distance. Not enough now. So, I made a decision. I hope it’s not a mistake. I hope if it is, I learn something from it. I think it’s good to stare once in a while. But, for me, it’s time to take a deep breath and go.
This morning, like so many mornings now, I woke up thinking about my dad. Happy Father’s Day, by the way. I still miss him. Maybe even more than I did months ago, which is strange because I thought it would get easier. This morning I kind of smiled when I thought about how I viewed him as I was growing up. When I was little, I thought he was the greatest man alive. He was tall and strong with a deep rich reading voice. His stride when we walked together was twice my height. When I got older, teenage years, I thought he was great because he knew everything about everything. He was incredibly smart. My brother and sisters and I know way more about the Japanese Maple and other various trees than we will ever be able to use. And as an adult I learned about his character. His high standards and ethics. I learned about the sacrifices he made for his family. The loyalty to his friends. His generosity toward everyone he knew.
Maybe, maybe… I thought he was the greatest man alive because he was. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with a girl thinking that.
This morning I woke up and cried. It’s spring and time for my dad to start growing his tomato plants. He always gave me two. And smiled when we put them in my car. Because he knew I would try. and probably fail. but I would try. again. Like I did every spring. And every summer, I would drive 45 minutes to take home big red tomatoes. Off his plants. I think he always held out hope that one day my plants would not only live but actually produce. I want to try again, but haven’t made that trip to the nursery yet. I don’t know why it’s so important… It’s important…