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daily message, if not daily joy .. today we need Roethke

closeup sign of the times coronavirus WE ARE OK

Hi out there,

Here in Seattle (Ground Zero USA), it feels like months have already gone by since we’ve gone into health-scare hibernation. It is a strange time. We’re in here, poring over the awful statistics and fascinatingly grim reportage from the New York Times, (Yikes! latest headline is: “New Yorkers Told to Stay Indoors and Shutter Most Businesses”), our stomachs flip in anxious sympathy, our backs stiffen and shoulders tighten as we wonder and worry. Meanwhile just outside our windows, we’ve had-all week!–glorious spring weather, fragrant breezes through the pink and white flowering trees, and a gazillion birds chirping, zooming by, and squabbling in the trees around our yard. (Advice: Get and install a hummingbird feeder! Super fun.)

hummingbird March 2020

Apart from my husband and son, I have not been in close contact with any human since Monday. (Today’s Friday.) Ooof!  It feels much longer than five days. Luckily, I have three things that guarantee well-being and you can have too: 1) a passion for some manual art or activity, 2) a nearby dog to love (it doesn’t have to be your own dog), and 3) lots of books and stuff to read. With those three things, you can do OK in times high and low.

My manual art passion is sewing (see HGBG website; quilts are it!). My dog is Honey Girl, who helps in every way she can to make me happy, which is apparently what dogs love and live to do (if the adorable books of W. Bruce Cameron can be believed).  See Honey Girl here, in a quiet moment with her squeaky pig.

HG and squeaky pig March 20 2020

The books are for my head: that annoying voice of critique and complaint that talks too much unless given something else to do. You know what I mean. I work on my head, regularly, as if it were a pony, a plant, or a high-powered engine that harms itself if left to its own devices.  (I now practice Qigong and T’ai chi at home too; they care of the body-mind.) Many, many writers are close at hand, to remind me how to live and why it’s worth the bother. (I read a paragraph or two from the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, on a daily basis and I enjoy others such as Jane Austen, W. Bruce Cameron, and Lori Gottlieb, just for fun and relaxation.)

My conclusion? It is time to act, to share the wealth.  People are reading more on-line these days. Maybe my bookish discoveries could be distilled into small bits on this blog, where people like you will read them, and maybe you’ll pass on the good thoughts through the internet, and we as a species will benefit.  Maybe we’ll remember why it is worth the bother to go on living. We might even learn something important. Is it beyond hope that we might evolve for the better? Must gun sales soar? (One friend writes that people are buying guns to protect their toilet paper stash, haha; virus humor.) Maybe we’ll become more thoughtful, introspective, and grateful for the present-day and careful with each other and our living planet. However, we’ll be poorer in pocket, though… and there’s a whole lot of misery going around.

I can’t do much, apart from offering quilts and good thoughts. But at least I can do that. So from now on, I vow to post a good thought from one of my books every day for the duration of this virus crisis, here on this blog. If you like it, pass it on.

Today, I think we need Roethke, “I wake to sleep”:

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.

I learn by going where I have to go.

 

We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

 

Of those so close beside me, which are you?

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,

And learn by going where I have to go.

 

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

 

Great Nature has another thing to do

To you and me, so take the lively air,

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

 

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go.

 

Theodore Roethke (American, 1908-1963). I never had the honor of meeting him, but he looks like such a nice person.  Love this photo. Looks like your favorite teacher, doesn’t he?

LoTheodore Roethke

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One reply on “daily message, if not daily joy .. today we need Roethke”

[…] Now, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, it is hard to know what do to. How and where should one will one’s will to act? As a skilled seamstress, should I rush down to the JoAnn’s store and pick up a mask-making kit for medical personnel?  Or should I stay home, as Governor Inslee has ordered? I am frozen.  So I stay home. And I look for a transfusion of hope from beloved books. That in itself is an act of will, and it reinforces the promise I made to you last week. […]

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