When I am depressed I tend to invest every little thing that I encounter with an exaggerated, symbolic meaning relating to myself. You know how this works, any of you? Trees, with their scant winter limbs reaching out to the sky represent your bare naked soul thrust up to the iron-gray heaven of an unresponsive God. Or you will be eating almonds and, holding one in your salty fingers, you contemplate the hardness and brittleness you have been manifesting to your children.
I certainly hope that by writing this post I do not get any well-meaning advice like "You need to get up and do something for someone else." If so, I will file it in my head with the admonitions of my own ego telling me, "You must send that package off today, you have to make dinner at least once this week, you should at least take a shower."
Though I may not be able to make myself do a load of laundry today, I can read the poem that was written by Elizabeth Alexander for Barack Obama's presidential inauguration and do my thing: make inconsequential comparisons to my own feelings. I see the noise and bramble that she speaks of, all about me. I see the attempts to repair all the things that are falling apart. Then I notice the efforts to try to make music, to speak and connect with others. I resonate that there are those who NEED to know "what is on the other side."
I begin, in a small way, to rejoice in struggle, as I read these words, to praise figuring-out, and love, and light.
And perhaps I will be able to walk forward into that light once again. Soon.
Praise Song for the Day
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.
All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.
Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.
We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.
I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.
Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.