Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Paper Hug

Lately, I've been going through a pretty rough patch.  Anything that could go wrong, has.  Everything that seemed to be going well, suddenly decided not to. 

To keep myself from falling to pieces, I've been seeking out comfort, consolation, and companionship in all sorts of places:  I phoned old friends, begging them to remind me I had survived worse in the past.  I had hour-long chats with my two cats.  I cooked fabulous meals and tried to forget.  I curled into my fiancé at night and cried in the satin of my pillowcase.  I wrote in a journal.  I turned on my favorite comedies and tried to laugh.  I threw myself into my work, writing lesson plan after lesson plan.  I went to extra yoga classes and tried to sweat it all out.  I prayed until I was out of words. 

Earlier in the week – as my Lit class was immersed in poetry – I desperately turned to Google in hopes of finding something, anything that made me feel like I wasn’t the only person on the planet struggling to keep it all together. 

I snuggled into my familiar spot on the couch, closed the blinds to keep the sunshine from disturbing my melancholy, pulled my oldest and softest blanket up to my chin, and balanced my laptop on my legs.  I stared into the screen blankly, thinking What good can this do?  How is anything I find here going to make me feel any better?  After a few minutes, I typed phrases like these:

“Literature for the brokenhearted”
“Poetry for the downtrodden”
“Quotes to inspire”

Some of the results were a bit too much for me – a good amount were straight out of the self-help section of the bookstore, and others seemed written for the most devout and religious among us. 

There were also a number that offered little substance – I've blogged about these types of “inspirational quotes” before, see:  “What It Means to Dream” from December 2012.  My mood definitely wasn't going to be lightened by those little “gems”; on the contrary, I imagine I might have become angry.

But, alas, just as I wanted to give up and take a year-long nap, I came across three selections that made me feel the first twinges of hope.  I’m sharing them with you today, just in case you’re feeling lost like I was.  You’ll also find a few of my responses to them in italics

Bad Morning

Here I sit
With my shoes mismated
I’s frustrated

-Langston Hughes

*I know this one seems silly, and maybe it isn't your idea of consolatory, but it made me smile.  Have any of you ever done something so routine only to turn around and realize you completely mucked it up?  I certainly have.  I once went to work with inside-out pants and a backwards shirt on {I had gotten up late and hurriedly dressed in the dark}.  Obviously, the problems I've been dealing with lately far surpass little slip-ups like this, but perhaps I can consider them in this way.  Perhaps, I can simply stand up, go find the mated shoes, put them on, and go on my way, forgetting I ever erred in the first place.

A Winter Dawn

Above the marge of night a star still shines,
And on the frosty hills the sombre pines
Harbor an eerie wind that crooneth low
Over the glimmering wastes of virgin snow.

Through the pale arch of orient the morn
Comes in a milk-white splendor newly-born,
A sword of crimson cuts in twain the gray
Banners of shadow hosts, and lo, the day!

-Lucy Maud Montgomery

*L.M. Montgomery wrote a series of books about the beloved Anne of Green Gables.  Those books hold very special and sweet memories for me.  Her writing has always provided me with entertainment and cheer.  As such, I actually amended my search to include her name.  I came across this poem, which gently reminded me that every dark night is soon replaced by a new, bright day.

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

-Robert Frost

* I've never been a big Frost fan, but this poem reminded me of my life right now.  It is so much like carrying a tower of things.  One thing falls down, prompting another to follow, and another – and soon, you find yourself staring at a pile of broken eggs, torn bags, and smashed bread.  And what else is there to do, but stoop over and pick up the pieces?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, if anything can lighten a dreary mood it would be Lucy Maud's Anne girl! Nothing is better than popping in the dvd and having an Anne marathon! When Anne states "I'm in the depths of despair." Marilla quips "To despair is to turn your back on God." I cannot recall exactly what happens next but for me I view this and chuckle. Somewhere someone is going through something more horrible than the next person. This is not to make one feel better because there is more suffering to be had but to delight in the fact that it COULD possibly be worse.

    You know what? I think today is a good day to run a marathon... It just might quiet the elephants I hear upstairs. I know one 9 year old girl in particular has been begging me to watch Anne with her "because it's been so long since we've watched it!"