What Falls Away Gently

There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among
things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

                                   William Stafford

Someone wrote that it is pretentious to begin a blog post with a quote. I disagree.

Many someone-elses write that it is foolish to begin a year with resolutions, that we are bound to fail. But I think it’s the beginning that matters – the evaluation that goes into beginnings and the lessons-learned through practice: it’s not success(es) that make the doing meaningful.

I used to sit in meditation and my mind would have wandered off to work or to relationships. Sometimes to breakfast. And I’d only noticed when the final chime sounded. I thought I’d failed and that I needed to sit the ten minutes again to “do it right”. I don’t do that anymore. Oh, my mind still tends to wander, but I can accept and acknowledge that the effort is meaningful regardless of the outcome.

After two years of health issues, mental and physical, E. keeps reminding me that the only thing that is important now and for the rest of our lives, is to begin again. To hold on tight to Stafford’s thread and ask, “What is this all about again?”

It’s become a tradition and a priviledge to spend New Years Eve with L. and B.

L. is the one who invited me to eat 12 grapes at midnight. She and B lived in Spain for a few years. I believe that to make a wish with each grape is her own twist on the Spanish tradition. Today I reread the blog post from 2020 and realize that my 12 wishes last night were nearly identical to those two years ago: synonyms and shifted specifics. New perspectives. New approaches.

I’m not sure what to make of that in terms of my personal growth. Walt Whitman contradicted himself because he contained multitudes. I repeat myself. I think that is because I contain a multitude of threads as well, and am on a dialectical path. Where it ends doesn’t seem to be as important anymore. Only that I keep moving towards something.

The word “ease” had come up a lot over the past two years. Maybe the past three years. But this morning I read the word “gentle”.

I lingered on the word gentle.

I read Dylan Thomas’s poem again this morning with more empathy – and a different understanding – than I’ve had before. It’s wonderful, because for the first time I see the specific context of the speaker’s perspective. I see the words “old age” (would that Death allowed us all that experience), and the speaker’s projecting his own fears onto his father, and onto every other old man’s evaluation of their worth in the world. I think I’ve read this poem always making way for the poet/speaker’s greater wisdom, and I read the advice in the poem as a kind of sutra. I am thrilled no one deprived me of this discovery: that this (projected) perspective is not wrong, but is only one perspective. A true perspective, but not the true perspective. And that is not to say that no one has ever analysed the poem this way, explained it, described it to me. But if they did, I wasn’t able to take the lesson in.

Long live the hyper-realistic beauty of the unreliable narrator.

I want to move gently into this new year. To be attentive to my rage, to learn from it, and to let it then fall away.

I want to move towards… with new resolutions, and let my future selves return to them each day, re-evaluate. Maybe every resolution will fall away by spring.

If so? Some things will have changed.

2 Replies to “What Falls Away Gently”

  1. Resolution

    There’s the thing I shouldn’t do
    and yet, and now I have
    the rest of the day to
    make up for, not
    undo, that can’t be done
    but next time,
    think more calmly,
    breathe, say here’s a new
    morning, morning,
    (though why would that
    work, it isn’t even
    hidden, hear it in there,
    more, more,

    — Lia Purpura


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