Monday, September 15, 2014

the hearts of those around us

"Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing, and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.”

- Tara Brach, from the Spring issue of Parabola, 2013, “Spirit in the World.”

From a Poetry Foundation interview with Louise Glück:

You weren’t completely sure you wanted to do this interview. At this stage in your career, do you still feel a sense of vulnerability when you publish a new book?

Lord, of course. Vulnerability, and horror, and a kind of grief at the book’s being kidnapped by the world. I have been very happy, very serene, for nearly a year in the knowledge that I had this new work only a few people had seen. I could enjoy by myself its existence, and the pleasure of not having to write for a while, and the sense of having achieved something.

A better word than vulnerability, though, would be dread. I feel dread and sorrow at the end of a period of private and, this time, prolonged euphoria.


on looking back at the reception of earlier work she says:

"When I was first reading Meadowlands after The Wild Iris, audiences were not pleased; a certain dismay emanated from them. They wanted more flowers, more lyric extravagance. But I had done what I could, for the moment, with lyric extravagance..."

"There is a world that poets cannot seem to enter. It is the world everybody else lives in. And the only thing poets seem to have in common is their yearning to enter this world."

- Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

"They wanted more flowers" says Glück. "But I had done what I could."

This was terribly comforting for me to read. Because it's always like that. You do what you can with what you have. On the weekend, we watched Finding Vivian Maier which I added to my DVD picks list at the library. I'd followed her story when it first came out in the news, pored over the photos on the website devoted to her work, and have a couple of books of her photographs.

One of things that the movie brought out for me, was her choice to be a nanny, rather than say, a factory worker or secretary, or something like that. The choices weren't abundant at the time. But being a nanny is what allowed her to be free to go places. When children are small, especially, time moves differently. You are out of step with the rest of the world in a certain way. And it was a way of hiding, a mask to wear, the children acting as a shield in some ways so that she could carry out her work. She put herself in the proper position to do what she could with what she had, if that makes sense, which is what artists do. One attempts to arrange one's entire life around the possibility of making art, of writing.

The most interesting thing is that even though everyone at the time knows she's taking a huge volume of photographs, no one asks to see them. Maybe she wasn't approachable in that way - she made a point of guarding her privacy, having locks installed on her bedroom door etc. The relationships were obviously difficult and not necessarily idyllic. But you'd think that maybe even once, someone, one of the adults, would have asked to see the photographs. Tell her she was good.

When I read the interview with Gluck, I immediately thought of Vivian Maier. And those of us who create things, I think we understand the feelings she expresses about enjoying the existence of the work she's written, before it is consumed by the public. Enjoying the solitude of the space and of the work, and of being a writer, writing.

Mary Ruefle gets at the way a poet looks at the world, as someone apart. And this was Maier, too. The world that everyone else lives in, this was her subject. But she takes the photos, perhaps, from a position of yearning.

All of the worlds one cannot quite enter. I've been thinking about this.

And then, to return to that first excerpt by Tara Brach.

"With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.”

Which reminds me of that Hafiz poem which I've quoted here before:

That Sweet Moon Language

by Hafiz

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, 
“Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, 
someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, 
this great pull in us 
to connect.

Why not become the one 
who lives with a full moon in each eye 
that is always saying,

with that sweet moon 
what every other eye in this world 
is dying to

What happens when we take the time to tell someone what they do is good? When we take the time to tell someone what they need to hear in a really genuine way.

This is a difficult thing to do in a lot of cases, because of the barriers we have built up in even our everyday relationships. But maybe it's also as easy as turning to the person next to us, and seeing what they have to offer.

{Today's modelling brought to you by my daughter, who graciously consented to hold things in the backyard for me this past weekend}.


  1. okay, I confess. I only read the first few lines and then was entirely smitten with the photos. I love that one from the back and the first one showing the prayer flags. Lovely

    1. Thank, Diane. I love this set of photos, too. :)

  2. I watched that film about Vivian Maier too and its funny how I walked away from it, admiring her great talent no less and yet not at all convinced, in the end, that her art justified the means she took to make any case, your post keeps me thinking... another great, necessary poem, too, thank you:) p.s. love your model! xo

    1. I kept thinking that there must be more to the story. Not that I doubted the stories of those for whom she'd been a nanny...but that there must have been more to the family dynamics than the movie brought out. Hard to say. As a mother, I'd always put my child before my art. But then, she wasn't a mother.....The movie seemed full of tormented souls, for one reason or another.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...