Photo of me taken by my friend, Bruce
Garden of the Gods - Keahiakowelo
I am surprised and, sometimes, distraught when I reflect upon containment, on plunges never taken. How much have we missed in our lives by closing our eyes and our hearts in fear? Would we live a larger life in a shorter time if we were forced or, even just able, to see and be twice as much? People have done this in war time, a result of increased odds of not knowing if they would receive the gift of another day of life and love.
I have a Veronica Shorffstall poem going through my head this week as I have taken certain actions in my life for myself:
Comes the Dawn
"After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
You learn to build your roads
On today because tomorrow's ground
is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in midflight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you can really endure,
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn ...and you learn
With every goodbye you learn."
-Veronica Shorffstall, 1971.
So, I say, save me from the terror of the parting words, "If only..." or "I wish...". It's true. I fear the possibility of these statements with my dying breaths far more than I fear the potential in a life well-lived, yet I could be doing so much more with my time.
I wonder what it really means to 'settle down' - why 'down'? I suppose 'settle up' only means to pay one's bill. Perhaps we must settle up before we can settle down. After all, what goes up...
Nonetheless, I don't see why one needs to settle at all. I am not specifically referring to the physical - nature and time take care of a certain amount of settling in this regard. Some of my reticence with the term comes from my lean to cross-reference settling with stagnation.
I don't want to become a slow and sleepy dullard, bloated and non-responsive after a lifetime in front of a television, watching life rather than participating. I don't want to end up humming commercial jingles and dreaming of products beyond my means and need.
More. I ask more of myself and the freedom to accept more.
Awake. I watch, participate, learn and teach. This is how I want to live and love. I want to embrace life fully without fear.
Where love, joy and kindness have visited, there exists heaven.
-Gillian Cornwall, revised April 6, 2013.
Veronica Shorfstall poem found here
Buddha - Hawaii
G. Cornwall, 2006