Wednesday, February 5, 2014
throwing roses into the abyss
“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning sun can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem, or saying a prayer."
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
“Don't wish me happiness
I don't expect to be happy all the time...
It's gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humour.
I will need them all.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"Poets are damned but they are not blind.
They see with the eyes of angels."
- Williams Carlos Williams
“...throw roses into the abyss and say: 'here is my thanks to the monster who didn't succeed in swallowing me alive.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
So, let me tell you, I've very earnestly and happily been throwing flowers into the abyss lately, in grave thanks. I've heard some good news lately, which I'll share soon, but suffice to say, I've not been swallowed by the monsters in the abyss, I've staved them off. Which for a writer is the most one can ask for.
I've not yet found my copy of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book on my shelves. Which is driving me nuts, actually. I used to loan books out quite a lot, but now I never do. This sounds stingy but I know better. If it's a book I like enough to recommend, then, I'm unlikely to want to be without it. There was an instance, years ago, when I loaned out my favourite book - The Stream of Life by Clarice Lispector. The person kept it for such an interminably long time that I started to get twitchy about it. And so I just bought myself another copy. Eventually the person returned the book, and so then I had two copies. Each is marked up in different ways.
I like what she says about happiness and maybe it brings to mind the lines by Rilke where he says, "I basically do not believe that it matters to be happy in the sense in which people expect to be happy."
It's up to us do define what happiness means for ourselves. And in truth, many days we will not be happy in the conventional sense. To be able to see the world, in all its beauty and horridness, is a sort of wretched happiness. To do what you feel you must be doing, though it may include sorrow and angst, this too, we can call happiness.
I think that we too often wish others happiness when we should be wishing for them, courage, strength, and a sense of humour, as AML says.
I've been working at my writing for over twenty years now. I suppose many would think it's been an odd pursuit - I'm not famous or rich because of the work I've done. I've experienced my fair share of angst, despair, sorrow in the writing life. But I've always been able to continue working, and therein lies the happiness, which isn't how most people would expect to find it.