As mentioned in my previous posting, Musings- Creativity and Cold! here is the poem that I wrote in September 1980. Perhaps I should set the stage a little. I had returned to live in England in October 1978 having lived the previous ten years of my life on the beautiful island of Sardinia. Sardinia is located about forty minutes flying time due west of Rome in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It is an Italian island.
The weather there is fantastic. Hot and sunny from mid-May through to mid-September. Delightfully warm and sunny from mid-March through to mid-May and again from mid-September through to the end of November. There are a few exceptions to these time lines but they are just that, exceptions. Winter lasts from December till mid March but is not so cold as to be brutal, nor is it so rainy as to be continuously miserable. I remember sunbathing many times in January and February.
So to adjust to England’s climate when I returned to the UK in late 1978 was difficult to say the least. The culture and way of life was also problematic and frequently I found myself spiraling downwards on the emotional level as I tried to stay positive and live up to my nick-name – Sunny!! One day as I sat on the underground train going to work I was struck by my sense of isolation and felt myself being swallowed up by and absorbed into a daily “grayness”.
Each person in my carriage was totally closed in on themselves. Nobody looked at anybody else. It was as though each one of them was enclosed in one of those glass domes that are used to protect special dolls or statues. I found myself reacting to this by going in on myself – under my own glass dome. But suddenly there was a moment of “aliveness” which brought me back into my real self. The following poem describes that incident.
GREEK GOD ON A TUBE TRAIN
Somber blue, black and gray pinstripes
Seated in uniform regularity
The full length of the carriage,
Like regimental toy soldiers on an assembly line
Waiting to be dispatched, briefcase in hand,
To equally somber banks.
Dead-pan, pallid faces devoid of emotion,
Set above their city suits.
Bored, I stare ahead, merging into the nothingness
That surrounds me.
The train stops, doors open and close,
And suddenly my eyes are shocked wide open
By a non-conformity in this sea of gray monotony.
There he sits, or rather lounges,
A healthy sun-tanned lean Greek god,
In indolent disarray.
Tight jeans mould to his masculinity,
And he wears an open neck shirt from which spills
A heavy gold chain nestling in luxurious hair.
His dark and heavy-lidded eyes smolder
As they roam lazily over my femininity,
And I welcome his bold male gaze in the midst of such insipidness.
London, 24 September 1980
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.
I always enjoy sharing some of my favorite quotations. They are usually words that have helped me through a situation or two. Sometimes they have presented themselves as words of comfort and encouragement, sometimes as words of inspiration. Frequently they have improved my understanding of a particular set of circumstances. More often that not they have been “light bulb” words; words that have given me that “ah-ha” moment.
No matter what the moment may have been, these words have been important enough to me to have caused me to write them down for future reference. I hope you may find some gems of wisdom among the following quotations that will enlighten your heart and your day.
- You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. (Kahlil Gibran)
- Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. (Jesus Christ)
- Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. (Thich Nhat Hanh)
- Faith is a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and a prayer that God will be there to pull us out of the water. (Max Lucado)
- Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. (American Indian Proverb)
- As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might. (Marian Anderson)
- If you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself. As long as you love another person less than you love yourself, you will not really succeed in loving yourself, but if you love all alike, including yourself, you will love them as one person and that person is both God and man. Thus he is a great and righteous person who, loving himself, loves all others equally. (Meister Eckhart)
- Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- Encouragement is awesome. It has the capacity .. to actually change the course of another human being’s day, week, or life. (Charles Swindoll)
- I have found that when I am willing to trust and follow my energy it leads me into relationships with people from whom I have the most to learn……. I don’t need to enter or stay in a relationship that is not good for me, but if I choose to leave I can still acknowledge the gift and the teaching I received. (Shakti Gawain)
- One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. (Goethe)
- Death seems so wrong, dear Lord
Couldn’t You have remedied it?
Have you forgotten, dear child?
There is Easter!! (Ruth Harms Calkin)
- The uncertainties of the present always give way to the enchanted possibilities of the future. (Gelsey Kirkland)
- If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one. (Mother Teresa)
- Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive – it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything. (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
And one final quotation to carry with you through the day, which also links with the posting I did yesterday Self Nurturing- Program Yourself Positive.
- Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. (William James)
Have a wonderful and blessed day!