Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end, or the marriage fails and people say they knew it was a mistake, that everybody said it would never work.
That she was old enough to know better.
But anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back through the hot stony field after swimming, the sea light behind her and the huge sky on the other side of that.
Listened to her while we ate lunch.
How can they say the marriage failed?
Like the people who came back from Provence (when it was Provence) and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

"Failing and Flying" by Jack Gilbert, from Refusing Heaven. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 .

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chopin's Heart

Today, February 13th is the birthday of the Polish composer Frederic Chopin. When he died in 1849 his body was buried in Paris. But his heart, at his special request, was placed in the wall of The Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw.

Where would you like your heart to be when you die?

Where is it now?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Don't Name It

I heard an artist speak this week about making art and how we see. He was talking about perception, and how thinking distorts what we see.

He said, “The best way to see something is to NOT name it—words stop seeing.”

It’s a challenge but it works...when you look at a tree try to see it with out saying “tree” to yourself or telling yourself all the things you know about trees: green, vertical, growing, leaves, etc. Just see without the words and you’ll see more.

Pretty cool.

Then it hit me; I could try doing the same thing with people. What if I saw him without saying, “John” or “lover” or “cancer” or “teacher” or “man” or “mine” or any other words that typically flow thru my head unbidden? What would I see if I looked but didn’t label and didn’t name?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sights & Smells

We went back to the Oncology Center yesterday for John’s check-up and quarterly tests. So far so good. Basic blood work was OK. But we now wait a few days for the “cancer marker”. What struck me yesterday was the sensory recall we each had at the chemo center. I could feel and taste the rooms and I could feel my body contract and prepare as I did every week we went there. The waiting and eating and waiting and watching. But I was surprised when John said, “I have to get out of here before the smell kills me”. He could smell the old smells. I smelled nothing but he had recall and recognition of the smell of the place—and the smell brought back all of his bad feelings about those months of chemo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oncology Day

I have been grumpy for the last week. Grumpy to the point where I knew it was me and not him. Fussing at every little thing. Making any little thing into a big thing. Then I turned the page of the calendar: February. And there it was. The four month check up with John’s oncologist. Blood work and the tests.

It’s fear. It gets better each time but does not go away. I imagine the worst. Imagine what they will say, what he will say and what I will do. I imagine the hospital again and chemo again, and I think about the stats. The terrible statistics for colon cancer.

I remind myself feelings are not facts. I remind myself he is in God’s hands. I remind myself that I am in God’s hands too. And then I start to outline a very specific course of action for God.

Oh well, this is the day. We’ll go to the doctor. The good news is that this day puts work, hair, jobs, people and all other issues in perfect perspective.