Saturday, November 3, 2012

A different kind of storm

While my intent in the last post was to write feelings from my own experiences of storms, I now feel that I was insensitive to post it when others have had, and now have, such catastrophic encounters with storms of a far greater magnitude. Please forgive me for not thinking it through well enough to protect my dear friends who have been so bruised by storms of a different kind. I am leaving that post, though I would dearly love to take it down. I feel it's an important lesson for me. The steps of this process matter.

I love you all.

22 comments:

  1. No offence was taken. Did not think it was written with mean spirit.

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    1. I'm glad you did not take offense, Stratoz.

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  2. Don't worry. And certainly don't remove it. I know that feeling - poring over a post wondering how other people will take it. However, this poem is spot on, looking at a storm from all sides. It got me thinking of Shelley's Ode to the West Wind:

    Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
    Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

    There's nothing wrong with loving a storm. You can't wish them into existence and hating them won't stop them happening. Who doesn't love the stripes on a tiger? William Blake did, for one.

    Our village was hit by floods the other week (as you might have read on my blog). Usually, flooding here is impressive but harmless. We all stand outside wondering at the awesome power of nature. This time it came up a few inches more - just enough to innundate several houses bringing misery to quite a lot of old people who could well do without it. OK, no-one was hurt - but people suffered and are still suffering.

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    1. Dominic, I appreciate your understanding and the connections you make with the West Wind and Blake's Tyger. It's times like these I wish we were all sitting around a coffee shop or pub just talking. Words on an electronic screen, the gaps in what we say, the pauses between posts and comments, can all wreak havoc on a person.

      I'm grateful you were not in the worst of the flooding yourself in your house, though I'm sorry for those around you whose houses were flooded. It must be so miserable.

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  3. Lest there be any doubt, Ruth, rest assured that I did not think your poem was insensitive, and I'm glad that you are not taking it down. As your well-chosen words made clear in the poem, your love for storms does not extend to "the grief torn through a far-off house—violent, stubborn, deranged." It stems instead from the undeniable fact that some storms—for example, an unexpected summer rainstorm or a magical winter snowstorm—can seduce us into a state of pleasant forgetfulness.

    In short, I find nothing whatsoever wrong with your poem. Indeed, I admire both its imagery, its authenticity, and its solid structure. As always, however, I always try to put my heart into the experience of the poet, and in this case—because of my personal experience with the destructive sides of hurricanes—I found that difficult to do. I did not mean to imply anything more than this from my comment. No one who has followed your postings through the year could ever question your sensitivity to others.



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    1. Dear George, you have done much to assuage my concerns.

      I faced two questions. Does the poem express what I meant to say? You and others have generously said yes. The second question was whether posting it now was right? I decided to post it because I think all our feelings are important and as has been said, do not diminish the feelings of others. On the contrary, that you can tell me what you feel in response to my poem, with the destruction of those terrifying storms in your past and then Sandy, is exactly the beautiful point. But I needed to be reassured that my bold little step was received as I intended, because I never ever want to hurt you, or anyone.

      Indeed this whole poem thing is a wonderful allegory for living with danger, isn't it? Being willing to face the danger and do as Rumi said:

      Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
      Don't try to see through the distances.
      That's not for human beings. Move within,
      but don't move the way fear makes you move.


      I can't thank you enough for how you've stuck with me toward clarity here, George.

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  4. A line from Rilke seems appropriate here:

    "Let everything happen to you
    Beauty and terror
    Just keep going
    No feeling is final..."

    We all have to embrace the beauty *and* the terror of life, the pain and the peace, the storms when they come. It's all part of the package... We never think the terror is going to happen to us, but we are deeply moved when it happens to someone else... It's all just Life living ItSelf out the way that it does. It's all the dance of Life... This too shall pass... Heart Hugs...

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    1. Oh Christine, how perfect: No feeling is final... I am moved by your beautiful post called "A Week of Pain." The sense of home you describe, something many have lost this week, something we all prize in both the inner and outer landscape. You also remind me of the other Rilke passage written to Franz Kappus that I love: Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right in any case.

      Thank you, my friend, for such great heart beauty.

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  5. We love what we love and it's our heart loving it without reference to others. You are my mentor in openness to spirit and the bravery to speak truth.

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    1. Mary, how you touch me. [Like Erin] I don't feel brave! Though I have learned to be more so from her. I do have an open heart (sometimes to my shame). But life is for learning, and I have so very thankfully lost some of my fear over displeasing others. In fact you know, often in the very instances where I have most feared expressing myself, others have felt resonance. There is a lesson in this. I think we know when someone is authentic, and we are drawn to them like a moth to a flame, even when we disagree with some of what they believe!

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  6. What I respond to from Dominic is Shelley's Ode to the West Wind: Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
    Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!


    It reminds me of all the houses burned to the ground in Queens and then just across the street all the houses still standing whole! It appears senseless and without rhyme or reason. How can we all not give pause...even midst enjoying the wildness of the storm!

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  7. Boots, yes, Shelley's words are perfect: Wild Spirit, containing the always present possibility of life and death in Nature. We forget our own wildness in our civilizations, treasuring our homes, routines, comforts ... of course. Yet when Nature comes and imposes Herself, without respect to race, religion, wealth or poverty—wildly, we are reduced to the random position all creatures face in the work of survival.

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  8. While Ike, Rita, Alicia and Allison have been the most destructive storms for me here on the Gulf Coast, the most memorable and amazing in a rather different way was Humberto. Considered a tropical storm and predicted to remain so, he lingered off the Texas/Louisiana border before rolling up the Houston Ship Channel as a Cat 1 Hurricane.

    While the news broadcasters were on air, telling people not to worry, whole communities were gathering on high points around here to watch the storm, whose northern edge was rotating just about 15 miles south. It was so well defined, so obvious - as clear as a radar image - and yet those peering at their models and charts couldn't "see" it.

    Which is to say - all of us have a vantage point when it comes to these storms. Some see them one way, others have a different vision. But every viewpoint is necessary, if a true picture is to emerge.

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    1. Linda, your wonderful comment reminds me of that funny anecdote about the person who checks the weather forecast for rain, and all he has to do is look out the window.

      I really love this conversation, and how many of us feel the need to embrace everyone's story. Of course this is not always easy to do, when we feel that people have been irresponsible and made bad choices. Yet I feel, strongly feel, that if I listened for one hour to a person tell their story, I would find it more difficult to judge them.

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  9. ruth, i grew up in the midwest, and all my childhood i knew - skies turning green, the air stilling and insects ceasing to hum meant my mother was about to grab the radio, snap off the oven and herd us kids into the basement. tornado warning. to this day, the memory brings back a sense of excitement and dread. i understand and appreciate the creative momentum behind your powerful poem. it comes from a pure place of experience and reminds me it is important we not censor it.

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    1. Amanda, tornadoes were the one kind of storm I feared more than loved. I was tormented by fear of tornadoes and house fires. And yet my brother always wanted to jump in a car and chase twisters. I think we go very wrong when we try to control with too much vehemence, and to censor (yes!) how another expresses their experience of life. Thanks so much.

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  10. I'm so happy that you didn't take that beautiful poem down...otherwise I wouldn't have gotten a chance to read it and love it!

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    1. You are such an encouragement, Gail.

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  11. But it is beautiful.Beautiful in the way of truth and how can that give offense? You have not an insensitive bone in your body. I felt a kindred spirit in that poem, one who had stayed up with me to watch the storm (which I did, all that night) the guilty pleasure of exhilaration, the frisson of fear...(I am the coward who took down someone else's poem about a hurricane in fear of having offended. You, my dear friend, are no coward.)

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All responses are welcome.