Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November honors, a lullaby

It is black and white again, spotlights and confetti,
honors and regrets, winter. It is for this I live.
I sing to the stuttering TV of November 1963,
a girl my age, and her younger brother saluting the death parade.
One dies. Another will be reborn. The house is surrounded
by leafless trees. But o how the light in winter shines.

Note: I am relieved at the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, with some hope restored. But like most joys, it is mixed with shadows, and I feel melancholy. This is not a bad thing. "Sorrow wears, grief tears, melancholy soothes." I keep saying to myself, "Be the change you want to see ..." It's up to me, you see.


  1. A beautiful poem, Ruth, and I, too, am relieved. More importantly, I feel more energized than I have in a long time. Money has not completely prevailed; hate has not prevailed; discrimination ats a matter of national policy has not prevailed. The demographics have completely shifted, and the shift demands a society that is more inclusive than exclusive. I am beyond joy; I am ecstatic!

    1. George, these energies we feel are so powerful. I was fascinated listening last night to people talking about how the geographic area around Washington, DC has changed, which may be one of the reasons Virginia went blue. Just viewing the still images this morning in various papers, of the people of color (for example) who were almost fainting from joy, I thought, How could anyone not be happy for them?

  2. I also did a hand-swipe across my forehead and cheered the outcome. So much needs to change, though. I hope it starts by, for example, exercising a change in language i.e., no longer referring to human beings as illegal or aliens; a change in motivation i.e., for the country, not oneself; and especially showing compassion and understanding and demonstrating leadership marked by grace and intelligence instead of lies and cynicism. The most any of us can do as individuals is find some way to develop the kind of insight that will let us contribute meaningfully. None of us can change the world, and we should stop trying. We can control only how each of us exists in this world we have. And yet imagine what a different world that could be if we each were to focus on attending to what strengthens our human spirit.

    1. I agree with you and these good points, Maureen. We need to emphasize our commonalities.

      Yes, we need to work on changing language. Unfortunately I waded into a conversation on FB this morning. A young relative posted a statement that he had voted yesterday against abortion. The conversation between him and his friends was swimming along about "pro-abortion" and I felt the need to say, "With respect, Chadd, no one is "pro-abortion." Of course my saying that doesn't change a thing, and the conversation blows on without either of us seeming to have a real way to really listen to each other explain our perspective and understand .... but far more importantly, I think ... to listen to those who suffer from the laws that are passed or not passed, embargoes instituted, wars waged ...

      I didn't intend to get into specifics in this post, but maybe comments are as good a place as any to vent the frustrations that have built up.

  3. "Black and white" ... means so many things. My first thought is usually binary, clear, simple. Not sure why the words figure so strongly for me now, and in this poem. It is not the words, per se, but an image, seeing things for what they are, contrast of light and shadow, without color. Maybe even timelessness.

  4. This is a melancholy poem even in relief and hope, Ruth, and in that for me it reflects the nature of the human condition. Who can look back on the transitory nature of all things, on the turbulence and violence of history and not feel melancholy sometimes? RE: black and white--I once foolishly mentioned to a photographer that I thought b&w pictures were dull--he said their whole purpose was to concentrate the mind on what is really there, when the distraction of color is removed. I don't know if that parallels your current thoughts or what you were expressing above, but I thought it was an illuminating perspective. Thanks for being here, speaking, thinking and feeling with us today as we try to take this victory in and make it work for the greater good.

    1. Hedge, I can't seem to shake this melancholy.

      I welcome your story about your conversation with the photographer about black and white photographs, and yes it does reflect my feelings very much. It's that feeling I get in winter, when just simple shapes with large expanses of white are so satisfying. Such a hubbub we've had all these months, and I'm tired. Maybe that's all it is. And somehow the elation that Obama won combines with many other realities that gnaw at me.

      I'll shake it off. :) Thanks, friend.

  5. It feels like a beginning again to me. I am ever an optimist.

  6. Ruth, I didn't follow any of the campaigning - nice what physical distance allows (and there only being one option for me, never ANY equivocation). Sometimes the glimpses I get of what America *looks like* from a distance are so worrying, confusing. Really so divided? Really, as the photos of celebrating groups show, so together? How is it possible to view such a place (made of many places), such a people (made of many people) for "what is really there" with "distractions removed?" How to see the light that shines and not just the dichotomous, the starkness of portrayed differences?

    I don't know, really.

    1. Wendy, my sister lives in the Netherlands and she has been glued to her TV watching the build-up and then the results. Yes it is nice to live far away and be able to choose. I think the media in other countries may emphasize the polarization more than here, but who knows? Here we choose the news source we want, and if we're liberal, we tend to enjoy MSNBC, for example. I try to force myself to watch Fox now and then to try to hear, try to understand, but I just get angry and turn it over. Abroad I think there is more of a mix, maybe I am wrong. And so that objectivity may perhaps be more accurate.

  7. Wow, this just swung me in a whole unexpected way from seeing Kennedy's funeral (I had graduated from high school that year) that you referenced and my neighbor's daughter having her baby daughter last night. That with the post-election relief, I felt so sad and remembered an Irish lullaby (one of the oldest) and started humming it to myself. I posted it on my blog so thank you for the inspiration and the thoughtfulness you bring to your posts.

    1. Mary, you don't know what it does to me when you respond this way. The way you attend to what I write here with such awareness really touches me. I love your post, and I'm coming over to visit.

  8. Ruth! I did not know you were/are blogging again. I was reading Journey into Elderhood & she referenced a "Ruth" and I hit the link and here you are!

    Welcome back.

  9. i take a deep breath.

    black and white. polarization. it is, i think, not just a temporary situation created in our modern north american society but the grain of our very dna, the difference in the constitution of individuals. we are essentially and elementally made differently from one another.

    another deep breath.

    what are we motivated by? how do we find value in life? how, my god, does the economy figure into this? and what of our most basic philosophies?

    more breathes.

    no matter what our responses are we must maintain a dialogue. none of us is absolutely right (although i want to think that i am in reaching toward love and peace, forgoing economic stimulus but even this is flawed.) always the best living, the only good and peaceful living, lies at the crux of the discussion.

    how your poem turns like a pinwheel upon the point of all intersection. we must focus on this point, the turning and how we all relate. even in death life springs forth. even in the darkness of winter there is light and hope. even when one party rises to power the discussion must continue and we all must hear.


  10. Ruth,todays politics has me in tears. Each side putting down the other.

    I am happy with the out come myself and only hope we try and work together and maintain dialogue about moving forward.

  11. I've been saying this a lot lately...let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me...dona nobis the change you want to see.... I also keep thinking the 100th-monkey effect can kick in if we all agree to just do it!

    I love your lullaby!

  12. you recreate this seminal moment in history with a surgical precision that takes the breath away. that stuttering black and white tv - oh yes.

    i, too, am relieved at the outcome of this election. i was not following nate silver's blog personally so i didn't have the sense of confidence that others i know did.

  13. I read your poem Ruth and for some unknown reason it made me think about a book I bought decades ago in San Francisco. It is the I Ching or Book of Changes. You may know of it but if you don’t you can read about it in Wikipedia – it is a classical Chinese divination system. I used to toss coins and then read the hexagrams to which the coins represented to learn the answers to my questions. I found my old I Ching on the shelves (I had not looked at it in years.) I asked the question: “Was the outcome of the elections good for the US?” This is the hexagram that I received – no. 2 K’un – The Receptive Force. The text is long but the summary is:
    The receptive brings about sublime success,
    Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
    If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead,
    He goes astray;
    But if he follows, he finds guidance.
    It is favourable to find friends in the west and south,
    To forego friends in the east and north.
    Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.

    So I think this is good. I think the Receptive (Obama) will find success if he continues with his devotion to the country, is receptive to guidance and compromise. Thank you Ruth, I really enjoyed looking at my I Ching again.

  14. I was just a babe that November but wonder how the vibes entered my spirit.


All responses are welcome.