Fall leaves with raindrops

Fall leaves with raindrops

How does one respond, react to tragedy?  Life seems full of little daily tragedies that are all big to someone.  And then there are those tragedies of such magnitude that any response, any gesture, can feel futile or frivolous.  Maybe we need to just stop our tendencies to respond so quickly.  Maybe we just need to sit, in silence, and hold the sorrow without reacting.

Keeping Quiet
by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

“And this is what we mean by friends.  Even when they are absent, they are with us . . . even when they are weak, they are strong; and even when they are dead, they are alive.”
— Cicero

A light in the darkness -- the Macy star and Westlake tree, Seattle

A light in the darkness — the Macy’s star and Westlake tree, Seattle

“Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you’ve ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you’ve ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you’ve ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant.  Sooner or later, it will happen.  So prepare yourself.  Be ready not to be ready.  Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust.  Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact:  nothing is indestructible.”
— Jonathan Evison, from The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Today’s post is in memory of Alden, my daughter’s best friend, who died one year ago.  Sometimes it is difficult to find the strength to stay open to the joys of the season.  I am privileged to witness my daughter’s courage in this regard.  My heartfelt best wishes to everyone who is suffering the absence of beloved friends and family this holiday season.

” . . . simply living demands all the courage that we have.”
— Adam Gopnik, from Winter: Five Windows on the Season