Monday, 27 November 2017

getting old(er..)

Adjusted to fit UK contexts, here is a poem from David Rynick, a wise and compassionate man:

  65th birthday manifesto, by David Rynick

NHS, Atorvastatin,
baby aspirin please.
Don’t forget: zipper up,
phone, wallet, keys.
Sixty-five, still alive;
running now on fumes.
Yet to come, worrisome;
the piper plays the tune.
Still I’ll dance with tattered pants,
shameless far and near.
Too old to care when others stare,
I’ll find new freedom here.

 More of David on:
and in his wonderful book "This Truth Never Fails."

I wish him plenty of fumes. Maybe growing old has new freedoms in it, as well as deteriorations. Yeats wrote:
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress

Interpret and relate to "soul" as you wish.  Let's sing and dance onwards.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

oceans part III - distance and negative capability

That High Victorian  poet of doubt and loneliness Matthew Arnold might seem increasingly remote to some modern sensibilities, but he can still chuck out a line to stop you in your tracks. (Arnold's capitals and italics, btw.)

 "YES! in the sea of life enisl’d,
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know."

We're back where we live now, a long way from where we've been. 

From this:

to this:

It's good to settle back, readjust the colour palette, season and time of day, re-engage with family and good friends in the UK.

But we are geographically separated from some people we wish we were a lot closer to; there are "echoing straits between us thrown."

The pain of geograhical separation is mediated by electronic non-distance. Thanks to Saint Berners-Lee we can talk and see over vast expanses of space and time. You can't throw your arms round a Skype or FaceTime screen, but they sure help. Passenger aircraft fly at not much below the speed of sound. Those we love are - in theory - only a day away.

 Keats wrote in a letter of the importance of what he called "Negative Capability: that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."

The map on the seat-back set in front of me showed something schematic, unreal:

In this huge aluminium tube, am I really where the little white plane says I am? Are those I want closer to me really so far away? What is geography to the workings of the heart?

I'm finding big paradoxes here. 

There is only one ocean, whether it's brilliant azure or delicate blue-greys. 

Meditation can create a sense of oneness, unity with both the azure and the blue-grey, with them there and us here. 

We can agree with Keats, and say further that living with paradox is an essential part of freedom, of living in the now not in the land of "back then" or "ooo er, whatever next.."

Yet there still lies between us "the unplumbed, salt, estranging sea."

The internet cannot entirely gainsay the Indian Ocean.