Thursday, September 1, 2011

My goal

A poet is a man who stands outside in thunderstorms hoping to be struck by lightning, and if he is lucky he may be struck three or four times in a lifetime.
Randall Jarrell
Of course I am drawn to interesting people - in the blogosphere and in life - and maybe it follows that they are younger and healthier than me.  Almost everyone is.  Is that true?  I went to US Census data, which is quite a strain on the left brain, and I did find there that over 40 million people in the US are over 65.  Now, consider that I am 68, almost 69, which is almost 70.  The aged population dwindles with every year of life, so the graph looks like an upside-down top.  Therefore my statement is true, at least the part that most people are younger than me.  And it's reasonable to deduce that most younger people are healthier, more vigorous than me (or my close friends, in fact).

Bear with me, because I am tired today and having trouble following myself.  These younger people often have goals in life, short-term, long-term, and maybe what is now called a Bucket List but used to be a Life List back when I made one, when I didn't know what life is all about.  I thought it was about great experiences, that seemed to involve sensual pleasure, novelty, travel, fun.  I guess.  But I think most of my desires were symbolic - you know, to fly, to float, to whirl.

Beyond that, I was really into accomplishing things, like learning to relax (and wouldn't be here if I hadn't) and learning to play the guitar.  And finding love, which I really misunderstood.  I'd been too humbled as a girl to have career goals, except when I was around 50 and decided that I'd always yearned to go back and teach college, and so entered a PhD program in umm, literary theory, a decision I still don't understand.  I did accomplish that, by the way, I have to mention it since the stress caused me to develop cancer.  In fulfilling the dream of that degree, I did learn that I didn't want any part of the academic rat race and the faux teaching - sometimes you just have to do that to get over your romantic delusions.

Now, naturally my overriding goal right now is that of all sentient beings, to stay alive, and as the Constant Reader knows, I spend a lot of time on that.  It goes with another desire, to be happy, which the Dalai Lama says we all share, and of course we don't mean sappy-happy.  Toward that I spend time on spiritual practice, thoughtful living, being with those I love, and so on - stuff we Buddhists are in danger of writing about too much.

On the career side, I just finished a big piece of work, a submission for an arts grant in poetry, and so I have found within myself a humble goal, or desire.  It is not really anything you can bring about, like passing the French test or going to the health club three times a week.  It is to be struck by lightning, not just a few times in my life, but several times a year, to be frank, and write - or be the vehicle for - good poetry.  This means shaping my life around "being a poet," and is more complicated than just leaving empty time, spacious time to write.  I'm thinking about it today (too tired to do much beyond think and oh, a tiresome followup dr. visit later today, and grocery shopping . . . ).  How to encourage my creativity.

Right now the sun is shining, sky blue, all the green and gold outside my window moving in the breezes.  There it is, right there.  I hope it is shining for you.

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