Life Goes On

This is the road I walk along nearly every morning. Sometimes I walk in a mindful way, trying to notice everything around me, and sometimes I listen to podcasts or let my thoughts wander where they will. Letting thoughts wander where they will can be a dangerous prospect these days, but I am also learning to redirect, avoid traps, and make spaces for stillness.

There’s a lot going on out there and right here. Yesterday white fog blurred hilltops, a tiny garter snake slid with speed and stealth across the path, and a canyon wren sang its beautiful song as I passed. I learned that twelve new moons had been discovered orbiting Jupiter, and that rising sea levels might affect internet infrastructure. I heard more disturbing news about the current regime and the bizarre creature who is supposedly 0ur president, then quickly switched over to On Being and savored an interview with the wonderful Luis Alberto Urrea: “A deep truth of our time is that we miss each other.”

In terms of my own health and recovery, I am feeling so much better, and I am filled with gratitude. Earlier this week, I went back to Los Angeles for follow-up visits with the surgeon and internist, both of whom said everything looks fine. I don’t need to go back there anymore! My mission is to keep healing, adapting, and getting stronger. Yes, it will take a good year, and I’ll never be quite the same, but maybe in some ways I’ll be better. I’m learning a lot.

One thing that helps is that I’ve been sleeping, dreaming even. I write my dreams  down sometimes before I forget them, and they are a source of fascination and amusement. One night I dream-drank two cups of Italian espresso, another time I bravely climbed up to the top of a roof  for a better view of a bay. I camped in the mountains in Japan, rode a bike without falling over, and prepared a casserole topped with plum and pomegranate sauce. I don’t know what any of this means except that my appetite for life is asserting itself in those REM cycles.

And it is asserting itself in real life too. On the morning of my appointments in Los Angeles, we wandered around downtown, and I felt my curiosity and enthusiasm click into gear, watching people, looking at street art, marveling at urban architecture. We stayed in a 1923 hotel, its lobby elaborately vintage, and we saw an extraordinary photography exhibit at the public library about war and its aftermath. This powerful poem by Wislawa Szymborska was mounted on the wall:

Reality demands
we also state the following:
life goes on.
It does so near Cannae and Borodino,
at Kosovo Polje and Guernica.

There is a gas station
in a small plaza in Jericho,
and freshly painted
benches near Bila Hora.
Letters travel
between Pearl Harbor and Hastings,
a furniture truck passes
before the eyes of the lion of Cheronea,
and only an atmospheric front advances
towards the blossoming orchards near Verdun.

There is so much of Everything
that Nothing is quite well concealed.
Music flows
from yachts near Actium
and couples on board dance in the sunlight.

So much keeps happening,
that it must be happening everywhere.
Where stone is heaped on stone,
there is an ice cream truck
besieged by children.
Where Hiroshima had been,
Hiroshima is again
manufacturing products
for everyday use.

Not without its charms is this terrible world,
not without its mornings
worth our waking.

In the fields of Maciejowice
the grass is green
and on the grass is — you know how grass is —
transparent dew.

Maybe there are no fields other than battlefields,
those still remembered,
and those long forgotten,
birch woods and cedar woods,
snows and sands, iridescent swamps,
and ravines of dark defeat
where today, in sudden need,
you squat behind a bush.

What moral flows from this? Maybe none.
But what really flows is quickly-drying blood,
and as always, some rivers and clouds.

On the tragic mountain passes
the wind blows hats off heads
and we cannot help–
but laugh.

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1 Response to Life Goes On

  1. lisa says:

    It is so good to read this and know you’ve rounded the bend and are feeling better – and sleeping better. Clearly something is working – the richness of your inner life is dazzling. A plum and pomegranate sauce! May you continue to heal and strengthen and write with such beauty and candor.

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