all we can do
is make the brave, bold
and beautiful decision
that it is not enough
to know what we know:
that we must traverse
the breadth of the oceans,
not being content
to rest where we are, but
to reach all the distant shores,
and regard what we find
with the eyes of a child,
and the soul of a sage
who knows how much
there is to learn. – TS
There’s No War in World: Red Flower of Hope
A red flower of hope gives birth to herself next to me, flush with sensual awakening, a fall flower, a red of violent determination. I can’t find a park or a shrine (or the Buddhist temple that typically flanks the shrine to one side), so I sit on the bench outside Circle K drinking my 100 yen coffee. Inside, the old man working at the convenience store spoke to me in English, a first. As I waited for the coffee machine to pour the coffee into my paper cup, where are you from? For me, this is music now, his smile, gold. He’s never been to Canada, but studied English in Los Angeles 40 years ago, a long time ago!. My husband studied English in Los Angeles fifteen years ago. Things flow in, things flow out. It’s hard to feel the slow, beautiful death autumn represents today, the sun shines so brightly, a late-day wise in the early morning, an ever-strong aging hero, allowing for early blossoms and late clarity at once. A day for convergence.
What exists between the wait and life?
The mermaids know.
The ocean knows.
Each little action you take in a day knows.
Being present knows.
The Shakespeare sonnet below has been in my life since I was 13 and our visionary, absolutely brilliant English (and French) teacher, Mr. Wilson, made us memorize it, long before we could possibly know what it was about.
I tore it apart, sounded it out, learned new words (livery?), and reveled in its rhythms. Sometimes I thought I got it a little bit, and then it would be gone. All I could hear were its melodious tones reverberating in my head because of the way repetition can make the most familiar words strange.
A few years later, I visited my elementary school and Mr. Wilson invited me in to say hello. Without warning, he prompted me to recite the poem. I knew he knew I would still have it memorized. Which I did.
I can hardly believe I’ve reached the impossibly faraway age referred to in this poem, and that it’s still etched so deeply into me.
I love the way the poem asks us to take a look at ourselves as we change, at the nature of change itself. Parts of who we are bound to fall away. This is the nature of things. We become stripped, bare, a gaping, open thing awaiting our discovery.
I love the way Mr. Wilson, one of my foundational teachers, allowed us, in our earliest of teens and barely out of childhood, to play with an unfathomable future, to have a taste before understanding would becomes possible. So that it would.
I thank him from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me to make my own magic out of words, before I really knew how delicious and powerful they could be.
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, by William Shakespeare
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held.
Then being asked where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasures of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep, sunken eyes,
Were an all eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use
If though coulds’t answer, “this fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse.”
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see they blood warm, when thou feel’st it cold.