Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Breath (a la Maj Ragain, Alice Cone, and Wallace Stevens)

Lately, I've been thinking about what I really want-no, not in an egotistical way, but in a what is the meaning of my life sort of way, and I keep coming back to the words of Maj Ragain, my poetry teacher at Kent. For my colleauges who say Maj who, now you know: He wrote this in a letter to me (I'm paraphrasing here). I found somewhere to plant my seeds and then I did the good work of the earth. I think this is the best and most difficult pieces of advice to follow. For the perfectionist in me, I'm always worried about the next step---ok, I achieved this, so now I move on to____. All that climbing makes someone successful, but tired, and definitely happy (though sometimes fleeting) and never fully content. Other people in my life have told me to SLOW down and BREATE---which I struggle with, even in yoga class, it's the breath I can't tame. It seems the life of a writer is challenging---how to make enough money so you can write and how do you find the time and place for writing. A colleauge of mine said that often the best writers weren't the best teachers because the teaching was the job that kept them writing. Then there are some writers in which it is the teaching that is most important, it is that exchange of passion and ideas, which is the core of writing. In Kent terms, the heart song and poem breath. When I think about who embodies poetry to me, it is Maj Ragain and Alice Cone, my poetry profs. at Kent who taught me to trust in my words and to have faith that it is the work, not the outcome that matters.

The old journey not destination mantra---and as people come and go in my life, I think about these small moments, the threads that connect one human being to another, I think about taking one breath at a time and in the words of Wallace Stevens (or perhaps my own version of his line), let be be the beginning of seem.

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