It’s mild today, but the bridge was sure to be slick with ice, so we kept to the trail west of the lake. E. got me up from the computer and out the door. And Leonard Edgar seems to finally have his mojo back, while I lagged behind taking pictures, effectively running intervals to keep…
towards the west coast of England. We’re running castle to castle again come February. But still a long way to go before that. The dog is staring at me. We’ve both grown soft on this side of summer and I believe he feels a similar ambivalence facing the prospect of leaving this warm little library…
Dear Richard, That you should quote Dylan Thomas! Last night I watched Set Fire to the Stars. In it, Thomas says something about liking humanity more when it sleeps. I don’t know if he really said that, but I’ve been thinking about it since then: before bed last night, on this morning’s run. It’s too late now…
And I think there might be even more to it than that. When we glimpse ourselves in that way, we are unaware that we are seeing ourselves. We are looking objectively at the world (in the best sense), and seeing with the compassionate – or even admiring – eye that we look at others with. When we recognize ourselves, we turn on ourselves. With the conscious “posing” comes the conscious judgement. Or vice versa. We wilt under judgement.
This is why I need running, too. The warrior-poet me moves (and does not think). Like you, she gets out of her head, presses against the earth – gives and takes in a space of quiet. It is time-out from self-analysis, conversation, and the mental struggling I do too often with other people. A rock is a rock, and it has no intention that I feel necessary to root out and interpret. The patch of snow, slick instead of crusty, had no intention to make me fall on my ass. I should probably learn to treat people as I do nature.
Isn’t there a culture that conceptualizes the future as something that comes at us from behind to overtake us? Maybe they are the only ones to have it right. All this planning, all the mirages we see ahead of us. The clump of earth that should be frozen, but that rushes suddenly from behind to slip into the present, under your foot, in the form of soft and giving mud. And there you have it: the irretraceable moment that is a wet sock.
This is a season of quiet. I want to retreat to a cabin in the valley for a few weeks. I want to pull away, and observe. Morning runs through the rustling, frozen underbrush.
Not to be talked to. Talked at. Fixed.
I want to reemerge into a world of details that have worked out their individual spats, sighed with relief, and gotten on with it all.
Without my well-intentioned interference.
(And my apology to email subscribers for the premature publishing of a draft yesterday.) Carolee, Last night I read the day’s poem from A Year With Rilke before bed. Since your letter last week, I’ve been reading them aloud. This poem was actually a letter: [..N]ow at last I can breathe. Now everything is…
It brings me to Orr’s phrase to describe poetry: “the eros of langauge”. I think poetry is necessary because it bridges the gap between the corporal and the intellectual in a way no other writing can. Why we say novels that tell the truth are “poetic”. When we speak poetry, sing it, it becomes corporal. It’s funny that when we sing the word “love”, we are not supposed to sing “luhv”, with its stingy and clenched vowell, but we’re supposed to open the mouth, sing “lahv”- with a wide-open palate. Because it hits us in the gut with its beauty then. Openness.
I dragged myself out of bed this morning and ran 6K on a sore ankle. The marathon is in 11 weeks. At this point, I really need my mind and body to make friends. Although right now, in the bibliotekette, with the space heater blowing on my ankle, the rosemary oil burning, and the red curtains pulled, I am peaceful. Optimistic, even. The sun will be up soon, and the skies are clear. There is a sparrow calling outside the window now, actually. Which reminds me that I need to check the feeder on the porch. The magpies eat from it. Greedy bullies.
The problem is, I’m thinking I need to purge again -to get control over all the “stuff” and clutter that is a disturbing white noise.
I imagine selling the house and moving into to a simple cottage, with a garden and a stream that flows just a stone’s throw from a sunny porch. I’ll get rid of all my costume jewelry and buy leather bracelets. Ditch the tailored clothes for paisley caftans.
I imagine a whole list of things I could acquire to successfully simplify my life. I could get up and leave.
an edge of orange
spill from the coast paints the moon
brown as the dirt we sow
pre-dawn mist becomes rain
the shadow crosses the trial
then the lone starling
I worry that my children are still ashamed or embarrassed by me. I still talk too loudly – an American voice is placed in the mask – it carries (in more ways than one). It’s a matter of physics. What am I going to do? Adopt an accent?
It strikes me as funny that this of all things probably allows me to claim status as a “first-generation immigrant” (as opposed to expat): Worrying that your cultural traits will embarrass my children.
Or it would, if first-generation immigrant wasn’t code for something else.
Do you still miss living here? Miss being an immigrant? Are you happy with the unexpected repatriation in terms of your identity? Sometimes I forget which one of you is actually Norwegian: you or M.
And tiny monsters can be muses. Unreliable, but they tap you on the shoulder just before you wake, and they whisper things to make your heart beat hard enough to force you to take notice: Your heart is beating.
I need goals. It is how I operate. External deadlines.
This time, I bought myself some new trainers, and have booked tickets to Newcastle for the weekend of the 25th of February. I am going to run the Northumberland Trail Marathon.
This will be my second marathon. My first trail race.
E. is training with me, and running with me. Well, probably not with me, though I suspect we’ll start at the same time – and meet at the castle.
Pay attention to the breath, he says.
And I do. The breath, and the slowness that comes. The balance of wills: my will and that of the clay. Give and take. Inhale and exhale. My mind through my body, connected to the earth.
There is a man in Denmark who lives each day dying well. And, I hate myself for my first thought after listening to him: I need to move to a place where I can dig a pond, like he did; where I can fashion my life like his. I use the word fashion deliberately, for all it is worth. I am even considering his eccentric knit strawberry hat.