Just a couple of days ago in my posting Musings- Living Life (Lost Treasures), I shared and made comments on several quotations that had come to light as I was going through some old files. Another piece of writing that has surfaced is a poem by Pablo Neruda, a Chilean writer and politician.
He was born in 1904 and died in 1973. Pablo Neruda was actually his pen name, which he eventually made his legal name. He travelled extensively during his life as a consul or in other diplomatic roles for his native country. But he is more famously known for his prolific poetry.
Neruda’s works have been translated into many languages. In the literary world he is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century. I discovered this particular poem in an Italian book about ten years ago. It is one of those pieces of writing that at very first reading resonated deep within me. I’m sure there are better English translations of the poem, but here I offer you my own attempt.
To Slowly Die
He who chooses to become a slave to habit
Each day going in the same direction
Never changing gear,
He who does not dare to change the color of his clothes
Or speak to some perfect stranger……slowly dies.
He who chooses to avoid passion,
Prefers black and white and dots every “i”,
Rather than experiencing a whirlwind of emotions,
The ones that bring a sparkle to the eye and turn a yawn into a smile,
The same ones that make the heart beat wildly when a mistake is committed
Or feelings unexpectedly erupt ……..slowly dies
He who chooses not to overturn the table,
Or who is unhappy in his work,
Who does not risk security for insecurity to chase a dream,
Nor allows himself at least once in his lifetime
To ignore sensible advice ……..slowly dies.
He who does not travel,
Does not read, nor listens to music,
He who does not see his own gracefulness ……..slowly dies.
He who destroys his own sense of self,
Who refuses to be helped,
He who spends each day complaining about his own misfortune
Or the incessant rain …….. slowly dies.
He who abandons a project before it is begun,
He who never asks questions about things of which he is ignorant,
Or who refuses to reply to those
Who question him on things he does know …….. slowly dies.
We avoid death a little at a time,
Always remembering that to be alive requires an effort
Much greater than the simple fact of drawing a breathe.
Only intense patience will help us to achieve splendid happiness.
What an invitation to life and living! It makes me think of phrases like, “mix things up a little”. It reminds me of Erma Bombeck’s urging to “don’t save the best china for a special occasion, use it today”. It reminds me to get out there in the middle of things, to get out of myself (that old me-me-me-ism!!!) and help others less fortunate. It reminds me to be oh so grateful to God for the incredible life that I have and for the joy that fills my heart as I awake to yet another day.