Monday, August 15, 2011

Poetry Corner: Want the Change

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming
a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

I found a snippet of this poem in a recent O Magazine and knew immediately that I had to find and read it in it's entirety. Though my adult life has always been full of external changes, (new jobs, new homes, and a new continent every year or so) I have felt a definite shift in my internal world since we moved to Hawaii. I feel as though living on an island has forced me to confront myself in a way that I never have before. It's not always pleasant.

Eric and I have recently arrived at a place in our relationship (5 years of marriage plus five years of life together before that!) where we had to either face the pain of growth or walk away. The struggle isn't over yet- being married seems to only get harder the further along we go. Yet, I find it hopeful and encouraging that we have chosen to face our issues instead of ignore them. We peered into the abyss and took a step back again. That seems better than pretending it isn't there. (The alternative would be to continue out into thin air, like the Coyote in the Warner Brothers Cartoons. There is a moment of ignorance before the sickening reality floods over you- and you are sent plummeting to the bottom.)

The hardest part of change is to focus my effort on myself instead of the people around me. After all, you can't change other people but you can change yourself. I've heard it said (heck, said it myself!) a million times and yet, it is such a difficult thing to practice. Our egos are so convincing- so manipulative, so clever.

If only he would do this, then I could do that. It would be so easy then! See how that keeps me from examining my own heart? See how it puts off my growth until later? There are a thousand tiny ways that I do this in my life with Eric- out of habit, out of a comfortable routine that we've built in our ten years together. Simple things like expecting him to do the chores I don't like to do- all the gross things like taking out the garbage or squashing bugs. And I feel resentment when he doesn't do them- but why?

I'd prefer to think of him as lazy and forgetful than to acknowledge the fact that I don't want to take out the smelly stinky old garbage and would rather pester him into doing it. I'm lazy and mean! And that resentment doesn't disappear. He feels it and absorbs it and I hang onto it until next silly example of his imperfection. It builds a wall between him and I long after the garbage is gone.

And what I see now is that that resentment takes time to undo. It takes mindfulness to undo it. It requires that I continue to examine my own actions, thoughts and feelings as an impartial observer. And that I let go of what is over and what hasn't come yet and embrace this moment now. I can take this chance now to look at myself and continue the eternal, perpetual changing that makes me alive. Then take out my own damn garbage.


Gwen Edwards said...


Rebekah said...

I love this post. Our small group at church is doing a marriage study on a book entitled Love and War by John Eldridge. Marriage is difficult, but worth fighting for. Absolutely worth fighting for.

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