By Jane Hirshfield
Take the used-up heart like a pebble
and throw it far out.
Soon there is nothing left.
Soon the last ripple exhausts itself
in the weeds.
Returning home, slice carrots, onions, celery.
Glaze them in oil before adding
the lentils, water, and herbs.
Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.
Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.
You may do this, I tell you, it is permitted.
Begin again the story of your life.
As I learn to keep more still, to let life unfold instead of forcing certain happenings, I find myself freaking out every once in a while. Am I going to wake up ten years from now, regretting that I wasn’t more demanding, more inclined to force my way through situations? Is my attitude going to get me into some sort of unforeseen trouble? Will I wake up at 65 wondering what the fuck I did with my life, lamenting that turning point in my late twenties when I decided to stop running?
I guess I’m most concerned that I’ll wake up one day with large regrets…but that’s a worry that’s not really grounded in my own identity; it more closely describes the experiences of my family of origin, particularly my mother’s experiences. *I* don’t really have any regrets thus far, at least none that come blaring into my headspace right now. In my quiet moments, I’m not terribly tense about what the next few years will bring. Because of my upbringing, I relate constant tension to investment, particularly emotional investment. Thus, this lack of tension makes me my gut uneasy, and I wonder if I’m really getting the hang of having a healthy attitude, or if I’m somehow checking out and just not caring as much as I “should”.
I comfort myself with reminders that I’m a person who knows, in her heart, when big decisions need to be made, when life’s little irritations are truly large issues, when there really is a monster under the bed. I remind myself that I’m a girl who is covering a large distance with small steps. Thus far, my comforting statements are true. I think getting acquainted with my fear of the unknown is helping, too. Instead of grasping for something to give the illusion of security, I’m becoming better at just dealing with uncomfortable uncertainty.
So I guess, for me, the difference between this state of patient observation and my previous states of unhealthy settling is a freedom from obsession and attachment to outcomes. As soon as those words hit the page, I can think of at least 100 times in the last week that I was consumed with attachment and obsession… and that elicits a smile.
What fun it is to be a work in progress.