April 2018

Sunday, December 19, 2010

P. S. 29 Rough Year

In one of my favorite scenes in the movie Arthur, the young and somewhat drunken Arthur enters the study of his powerful, wealthy father-in-law not-to-be and waits in a dark, manly study. Mounted heads of elk and moose adorn the walls, and Arthur says, almost to himself, "Rough room." Then, as if he's been rude to the moose head hovering over him, he says almost apologetically, "I guess I don't have to tell you that."

In my community, it's been a rough year: one broken clavicle, one punctured lung, seven broken ribs (clavicle, lung and ribs all belong to our neighbor Andrew), one broken hip, three separations and two divorces, three new tumors, three deaths; six women have moved their mothers into assisted living, and an older friend of ours has moved in and out of assisted living. Rough year.

It has in some ways been a year of loss. Kari, Katie F., Pea, my new friend Toby and I have lost a combined 160 pounds. I, along with others being treated for tumors or just those who are aging , lost a bit of hair. My eyes are more crossed; my balance is worse; I have a new tremor in my left hand and a different one in my right hand. There has been the grief in loss of people we love and ways of being in the world that are no longer. There is with me a new sense of vulnerability.

My naturopath told me yesterday that I seem to be one of those "the glass is half-full" people. Actually, I may be more along the lines of "my cup runneth over but the water source may run dry any minute now." In this time of loss and in the, perhaps ironic, sense of gratitude that I've had through this whole experience with tumors, I have found a soulmate in the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.

The closing of Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" reminds me of the miracle that remains, of the joy in living even in--and maybe especially in--times of loss, the power of natural beauty to overwhelm me with a sense of this miracle that is living. Wordsworth writes:

The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet; The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

In this new year, I'll resolve to keep crying about mean flowers. You do too.


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