Tuesday, April 23, 2013

gotta lose

One thing you cannot know:
The sudden extinction of every alternative,
The unexpected crash of the iron cataract.
You do not know what hope is, until you have lost it.
You only know what it is not to hope:
You do not know what it is to have hope taken from you. 
-T. S. ELIOT, The Family Reunion
"It's only after we've lost everything, that we're free to do anything."
-Fight Club

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Mr. Kappus (Ms. Churchill),

I believe that all our sorrows are moments of tension, which we perceive as paralysis, because we can no longer hear our estranged feelings living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliarity that has entered into us; because everything intimate and customary has been taken from us; because we stand in the middle of a crossing where we cannot linger....one could easily make us believe that nothing has happened and yet we have been transformed, just as a house is transformed once a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signals indicate that the future enters into us this way so as to transform itself in us long before it takes shape. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad.

You must not be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, when a sadness arises in front of you greater than any you have ever seen; when un-ease, like light and cloud shadows, passes over your hands and all you undertake. You have to believe that something is happening to you, that life hasn't forgotten you and that it holds you in its hand; it shall not let you fall. Why should you shut out any anxiety, and woe, and melancholy from your life since you do not in fact know what work these states carry out within you? Why do you persecute yourself with the questions whence this might come, and where it is going? For after all you do know that you are amid transitions and wish for nothing greater than to transform yourself.

In you, dear Mr. Kappus, so much is happening just now; you must be as stoic as a patient, and as confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both. And then in addition you must also be your own physician and watch over yourself. But there are many days in each illness; all a physician can do is keep waiting. And that above all is what you, inasmuch as you are your own physician, must do now. Don't observe yourself too much. Don't draw too hasty conclusions from what happens to you; simply allow things to happen.

Your life, dear Mr. Kappus, I think about with so many wishes. Do you recall how ever since childhood this life has yearned for "great things"? I can see it now yearning further, from the great to the greater. That is why it will not cease being difficult, and is also why it will not cease growing.

-Rainer Maria Rilke - From 'Letters to a young Poet'

Monday, April 08, 2013

for the swimmer

remembering the freedom
of weightlessness,
pull, pull, pull,
Each time one arm descends
I watch tiny bubbles float up from the tips of my fingers,
pull, pull, pull,

My neck rhythmically twists,
reaching for air, for life,
over and over,
one side, then the other,
in fluid repetition.
pull, pull, pull
I feel the water flowing over and around my tired body,
it washes over my shoulders,
it slides over the small of my back,
like a comforting hand.

My eyes follow the thick blue line at the bottom of the pool,
to guide me,
to let me know when it’s time to turn around,
and begin again.
and I love
this symmetry.

An older woman winks at me as we reluctantly lift ourselves out of the water and walk towards the change rooms. I immediately notice the laugh lines etched permanently in her strong face. "You swim like a dancer", she tells me, "And you must know that fish love to dance". As I leave I hear her whistling in the shower. It's a tune I know from some old memory, but can't quite place.