“We have to give up the life we have planned, in order to have the one that is waiting for us.”
Ah my friend, what plans have been well-made that have then been undone, what visions of freedom are never born into the world for no reason but that of fear, what successes have never occurred because of the slight possibility of failure, what loneliness was never quelled since the distress of rejection proved stronger, what hopes have been shattered by the begrudging jealous voices of our previous generations, how many people stay in the nest as they’ve been told that there is no reason to look beyond how they were brought up, how many shouts are never heard because mouths have never opened to make them, how many fallen tears, whether of joy or of sorrow, have been lost in the cycles of clouds and rain, how many of us go hungry out of ignorance of what might nourish us, how very few of us take a leap into the unknown and discover we have found all that we are looking for? How do you ground yourself where you cannot take root?
Ah my friend, how much sadness has already made the face of the world swollen and bloodshot? Is it sadness or the constant companion of mortality that subdues us into silent murmurings by the sides of the roads? For life and death are faces of the same coin and the coin can be tossed purposefully or with abandon, all the same. Do we not wonder while we breathe why we are here? Do we not stop to marvel at the goings-on of life that persist among and around us regardless of the most violent moments human beings have ever seen? Perhaps we can learn from our wordless brothers and sisters who survey the world on wing through sky, or consult the ones who put four paws to the ground. Perhaps we might learn from our own brothers and sisters, gone to rest in the world beyond this world.
Oh, will we ever learn, indeed? We will not ask the flowers, you agree, what they have seen, for even they wish not to recall. How many dreams lay untouched at the end of lifetimes? Who will dare to carry out what they long for to come to terms only later with whether they have done right? You may travel thousands of miles, and still the inner space in which you keep your most hidden thoughts is the largest uncharted ground you will ever find.
You could weep at the enormity of it. But it is better, you know, to put on some sunglasses and a big funny hat and strike out through the undergrowth: the unruly branches of unkempt trees, the marshes of memory, the fog of the forgotten. View it as a great adventure, one you will never chance to make again, and learn to confront all the wild creatures that might cross your path, for they are all parts of you that you have left in shadow. What dream could you realize once you are this strong? I think, as it is, you could manage anything you ever thought to be worthwhile doing in this world. And are you the kind of person who can manage it, regardless of what happens or how many eyes roll in your direction?
In this particularly forlorn and unfortunate pop culture, “live life to its fullest,” has become cliche. Life is so fragile. What can we make of ourselves if we do not know what we, who we are? Not just what kind of success we can achieve, but what song still sings just beneath the rushing of blood, what landscape is imprinted on our skin, what hard-won determination defines us intricately like the labyrinth of bone that allows us to stand at all.
Ah my friend, if only there were answers. Anyone who tells you they have the right one is not worth listening to. Anyone who stares at the sky wistfully and longs for something she cannot speak, treat her like your own relation, , for you surely have seen the same bewildered longing haunting the unfathomable eyes staring back at you from your own mirrored reflection. Do what is needed for you, then, for there is nothing else, nothing more you could ever ask of yourself.
What is waiting for me, my friend, if I close my eyes and let go of this straight and narrow existence I chose for myself so so long ago, thinking then it was all I would ever need? Do needs change with age, with experience, with growing? I am here: perhaps this is strength enough to turn my hopes into something real. Then I will no longer be dreaming of what could be, but find myself being all I could ever dream.
2 thoughts on “The Sojourner’s Lament”
The questions you pose are profound and timeless. We all must answer according to our gifts, to our abilities. It is not enough to be troubled without the corresponding how can I help; it is vital to listen, but essential to participate. The future is wise and wonderful for those who jump in, as Mother Teresa says to do what we can, where we can…and while alone it may not be much, together it can be everything….love, Joan (not your aunt)
Yes, absolutely. We can listen, and we can speak about what needs to be done, but it is our actions that bring about who we really are. I first wrote this post in 2010 when I was not living any of it. Now I am smack in the middle of actualizing all I was longing to help emerge into the world. It’s amazing how far I’ve come, but there is more, much more to do still. Fortunately this is one of the reasons for life, I think, to learn how to actualize who you are and be of service to others, take part in mending the natural world we’re in and making a mess of. One day at a time, but jumping in is necessary. It all unfolds after that.