Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Deep, the way it is..."

Ah, the bright lights, the roar of the crowds, the thrill of being in the spotlight. Surely each of us has experienced (if only in fantasy) a moment's ecstasy: "Me? Me? Why they're applauding for me!" Imagine now you're addicted to this Ecstasy, only sure of yourself in that moment of winning.  

Jonathan Holden's "At a Low Mass For Two Hot-Rodders" describes a funeral mass for two young men who would not chicken out and swerve. He saw with the poet's eye the cost of the race (they idle in a feelingless embrace) and implies the life-giving momentum of allowing failure. The winners are wheeled to their common grave by boys... 
Black-jacketed and glum, who also steered
Toward absolute success with total pride,
But, inches from it, felt, and turned aside. 
The boys who didn't crash are still glum about having felt, but this is a perfect metaphor for the transitional state to feeling from doing, from keeping eyes only on the prize. To lose that drive for others' applause one needs to walk where my own nature would be leading, as Emily Bronte reminded us in "Stanzas." Here, the lonely mountains reveal...
More glory and more grief than I can tell:
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling
Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.
Ah, but our own nature, the legend under as William Stafford wrote of it in "Bi-Focal," is deep as the darkest mine, and the signals along the way are spare ...the thick rocks won't tell. Why would we draw away from the accolades of the world? Because we know in our deepest souls the world happens twice...
...once what we see it as;
second as it legends itself
deep, the way it is.
John Berryman's "The Animal Trainer" thought he must leave the circus, the excitements of disappointment and praise. His animals had been his distraction and he thought if he escaped the smells and cages here he would stand naked in the sun. But his heart asked: Can you do without your animals?  
...What must I do then? Must I stay and work
With animals, and confront the night, in the circus? 
...You learn from animals. You learn in the dark.  
We do not become transformed by walking away from the cages our egos have constructed. We learn from our animals. We must confront the night. 



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