Thursday, March 21, 2013

we are drowning

Sometimes it is all just too much, and finding beauty feels like the wrong calling. As more information surfaces about the costs of war, of rape, of power, I am so sick I can't refrain from writing out of this mess. 

We are drowning 

in an ocean,
a human drain

under the plank
that moves with pleasure
on top of us,
an iron vessel that keeps on
floating and sliding through waters
calmed by those themselves
who ride us,

their vision of
clear sailing
in a free and open sky
beautiful to them
who look to the horizon

while we thrash
in the still dark deep
stain below,
pulled down
under them
into the


  1. Replies
    1. I think it is something, that we are like-minded. If I were suffering as some do, I would be buoyed by knowing someone is supportive. And in this remote suffering, which is next to nothing in comparison, to know that you feel this way too, that you understand, is strengthening somehow.

  2. Virginia Woolf also mentioned 'writing out misery'....
    Your poem so clearly expresses the frustration of those who feel powerless as the world wags on in its inimitable wicked way.
    I think perhaps , for sanity's sake, it might be worth taking a media break.
    I feel I ought to keep on top of current events, then just get overloaded with information I can't process.
    ps your winter aconites were a joy to see....

    1. Elizabeth, I remember how I felt after the great tanking of the economy in the fall of 2008, after a faculty meeting in which our Chair listed the things we would no longer be able to do as a department. "Universities will never be the same," he said. "Graduate programs will disappear." I went back to my office in a stupor, depressed. Sometime the next day, or the day after that, as I advised undergraduate students, I heard words coming out of my mouth with the sudden realization that This is why we write! It is artistic expression that gets us through these horrible experiences, both creating them and receiving them.


  3. Much of the time I agree that a media break is the answer. New and more news, information and more information, these things do not have to define us.

    However there are times when no mantra, no media break, nothing can bridge me to beauty. Oh don't worry, it will come again, and soon. I know it because I've been here before.

    And yet. The picture is so terribly wrong. I have seen things this morning that ARE. Whether or not I see them they ARE. Does taking a break from them undo them? No. They still ARE. Videos of babies so deformed they look nothing like humans, from the depleted uranium waged during the Iraq war. That is just one example. Or how about the culture of dominance over women that is sports in this country, developed by unfeeling coaches and their communities that want to compete and be the best.

    These so permeate our world, the world I want to be ONE with. But guess what? We ARE ONE, there is no break from that. And when I SEE what I've seen today, I am torn apart.

  4. Yesterday I chose a quote by Maira Kalman for today's post at the small blog:

    "I must tell you my dreams have been disturbing (darkness, darkness), but I am still able to see and feel beauty everywhere. Dread and delight at the same time. That is the truth about being alive."

    Yesterday beauty seemed possible. How I believe this statement, that we can see and feel beauty everywhere. But at times dread rapes beauty, and all we have left is mortification. I want beauty for those who suffer.

  5. Dearest Ruth, I understand your sorrow and disturbance at the current situation. It is easy to feel that life is out of whack, and we feel its pain. In Zen there is the philosophy that we "suffer" because we *think* that things/life "should" be different than the way they are. It sets up a dichotomy in our minds of how things *should* be and we suffer. To let go of our *ideas* and notions of how life should be allows us to embrace what is actually happening - the reality of things as they are without judging them as good or bad, dark or light; but just seeing the reality of life with its darkness and light - its totality - the beauty and the darkness as the quote from Kalman says...

    If I say that what is happening shouldn't be happening, I suffer. And I do this all the time! It's human nature evidently. We are all bound by the chains of our own concepts and ideas in our heads that try to make sense of the way life is. But to see *beyond* my own ideas of how it should be and embrace what is, is the freedom.
    And that is a continual practice...

    May you also find peace in the pain...

  6. I felt drawn to Rilke this morning, after rereading my post and these comments. I went to A Year with Rilke, and typed "war" in the search box. Rereading the quoted Rilke passage from a letter to Franz Kappus is good ("Nothing alien happens to us . . . ") but rereading the ensuing comments is downright moving. It is quite relevant for what I felt yesterday, and for what anyone feels who observes the intense suffering of another, especially on a massive scale, and is paralyzed by it.

    The post and commentary are here

  7. The world rises up to speak in response to what is. A tremendous piece here called "A Bunch of Nobodies" with an image of a peace sign created by people and their naked bodies at the beginning of the war in Iraq, to bring attention to the reality of real people who will suffer.

    "What is freedom for? Either it’s the freedom to live free of the burdens of conformity, constraint, and expectation, or it’s a freedom to bring other people under your power."

  8. I'm joining this late but it echoes the conversation in our home the last couple of days, perhaps because of our brush with vulnerability in my Honey's illness. I'm coming to the point of Mystic Meanderings wisdom as the only way to cope. We are only presented with the evil being done in the media and nobel, sweet, blessed things being done are nowhere touted. Not because they are not happening but because they don't sell, or so we're told. But the grandmothers are seeing and hearing and changing and coming to decisions that will yet become known as we band together to be the change we want and need. You and me and ...

    1. Oh Mary, there are distant griefs, and there are close ones. I am sorry for the fear and illness you and your husband went through. I think sometimes we feel such experiences even more acutely once they've passed, and we consider what might have been. I am relieved to read at your post that he is on the mend.

      Both these things are true, I agree. As Christine shared about suffering coming from the belief that things should be other than as they are, there is too much to be broken over. And yet is there not as much to be happy about? Somehow the negative sticks to us more easily than the joy. You are right in your words and in your life that we grandmothers and others with hearts like ours know that it is from this inside place that we must change the world.


  9. I use to enjoy watching the news. When I was growing up my father always watch the local news and the national news but this was before the whole ,internet,social media hoopla. News was news back then and now I'm not sure what to really call it because it has become a bit to much (I guess that is putting it nicely)

    I understand your fustration Ruth.


All responses are welcome.