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June 22, 2009



A friend approaching sixty said to me once that she woke up with the sense that every experience was suddenly her mirror. She could not escape anything about herself in the constant reflections. No matter which way she turned, it came back to her with a rush of realizations; her losses, triumphs, ambiguities, regrets and insights all mixed up together, all part of the same "funhouse" that she couldn't quite (didn't want to?) get away from.

When there's no exit to awareness, I suspect what we learn to do is surrender to a newly emerging center, something "beyond us yet ourselves," as the poet would say, a center woven from a multitude of very disparate threads. The topic of middle-age, of things pulled apart and rewoven, is not something we can just put aside because now more than ever we experience in real time each of those threads, each thread's unraveled or discovered truth, its colors and textures, its knots and remaining loose ends. And maybe, just maybe, we see some part of the larger patterns in the cloth.

Wallace Stevens in his poem, Of Mere Being, says, "You know then that it is not the reason/That makes us happy or unhappy." A phrase pointing to a mystery: we only need to understand that understanding itself isn't going to be the final answer.

Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

~Wallace Stevens, 1954~

Deb Call

Dan - you have the beautiful gift of being able to pick up the "threads" of my meanderings and hand them back to me in a fabric of both clarity and reassurance. Thank you for stopping by to share both your friendship and your wisdom.

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