My Good Morning

October 16th, 2008

I’ve been listening to “Midlife and the Great Unknown,”  a cd by poet David Whyte, on my drive back and forth to work. I’m so absorbed by it that I hate getting out of the car. Maybe it’s simply a case of “when the student is ready, the teacher will come,” and if I’d listened to it a month earlier even, it would not have spoken so directly to all my longings. After all, it’s been sitting on a shelf under a stack of cds for quite some time, and I just came across it, unopened, “by accident” last weekend. This morning I started incorporating one of his suggestions into my life by reading poetry before I get out of bed. Here’s how I usually start my day: turn on the tv as soon as I wake up and then switch from CNN to Morning Joe to Today Show and back again. I know it whips me into an impotent frenzy, but I can’t seem to stop checking in on the Dow and campaign dirty tricks and Meredith Viera reporting on someone who had their leg/arm/head bitten off by an alligator/shark/pit bull and miraculously reattached. By the time I actually get to work, I am wrung dry by anger/sadness/disbelief and my brain has to be unscrambled by cups of bitter, badly roasted, chain cafe coffee. I am overstimulated and at the same time, my senses are dead to the world. I drive back and forth (listening to more news) to work, on the same road, taking the same route, without being present in my own life. I know there’s beauty I’m missing, but I just can’t seem to find it in my ordinary life anymore. I’m hoping that establishing new rituals like reading poetry will help wake me up. To begin, I’m going back to a collection called Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation edited by Roger Housden, and this morning I read “Encounter” by Czeslaw Milosz. It’s one of my top five favorite poems because it never fails to send a shiver of eternity down my spine. If poetry were food and music were wine, I’d pair this work with Gymnopedie No. 1 by Erik Satie. Both of them split me wide open to an almost unbearable light and haunt me long after I’ve read/heard them.

5 Responses to “My Good Morning”

  1. V-Grrrl says:

    I have a friend who chides me for not being more plugged into the news, more passionate, more outraged, more vocal about the issues that matter to him and that he thinks should matter to me.

    He doesn’t understand when I try to explain that I have limited emotional resources, that I have to divide and dole out my energy and passion with great care and intent. I have none to spare, none to fling angrily at the TV or the computer monitor or the guy who drives like an asshole. I have to ration it, allocate it among the people and actions I love, the places where I can really make a difference and not just make noise.

  2. Pat says:

    Nikki, You are simply a very thoughtful, very caring, very concerned, over-worked person searching for that one thing you think you don’t have…if you only knew what it was. (The truth is none of the rest of us know either!) I think spending part of your morning reading poetry will be of great benefit to you….and slow down your “worry meter.” Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back before you leave the house, give yourself some credit and smile at everyone you meet….a better day is coming! Pat

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been reading about how, in one’s 60s, one should discover new choices and act on them. I like the whole idea, but all I want to “discover” are big, dramatic (unrealistic?) choices that will take enormous time, freedom, money. You’re talking about the addition of a small daily ritual that might wake you up. Sounds like a good place to start. I tend to think I can’t change anything just now, but that’s because I’m waiting for more time, freedom and money. (This is SO MATURE of me.) Mostly what I want to say is thank you for gorgeous sentences that make me pay attention and think about important things during the day.


  4. Allegra Smith says:

    “So Little.
    I said so little.
    Days were short.

    Short days.
    Short nights.
    Short years.

    I said so little.
    I couldn’t keep up.

    My heart grew weary
    From joy,

    The jaws of Leviathan
    Were closing upon me.

    Naked, I lay on the shores
    Of desert islands.

    The white whale of the world
    Hauled me down to its pit.

    And now I don’t know
    What in all that was real.”

    ~ Czeslaw Milosz

    The day I was given my diagnosis about breast cancer I came home and read this. I didn’t cried then but I cried when he died in 2004, at least he was finally home.

    I don’t know why but Gustav Mahler’s 5th always takes me back to some of Milosz’s poetry. Maybe it was the same melancholic yearning for that elusive “home” they both had. Maybe we all yearn for that elusive “home” inside each one of us.

    BTW I have not watched tv for over 20 years now. Never a second of regret. I guess if there is a bit of sanity within me that may be one very big reason for it.

  5. eb says:

    all good listening and reading – I have listened to David Whyte’s Wild Heart Calm Mind – over and over and over…

    loved visiting you this morning

    xox – eb.