Thursday, January 22, 2009


It has been a rough couple of weeks. Now that school has started work has picked up and even though it's not true it feels as though most of my waking moments have been spent there, smiling at people who do not appreciate the hard work I have put in for their benefit, or the people who are sometimes downright hostile toward any effort made to help them. I am a person who has an almost ignorant belief in the innate goodness in people but the start of the school year always causes me to reconsider. There is something about the fear of being exposed to new ideas that really tends to bring out the worst in people. So I spend a few weeks at the start of each semester being the college's punching bag and absorbing far more negativity than I've earned, unless, of course, you believe in reincarnation, in which case I must have been a terrible person in a past life.

The high point of my day has been coming home to find Duncan waiting at the door for me, his back-end exuberantly swaying from side to side as he cups my wrist between his teeth and pulls me into the safety of our home. The sun has usually set by the time we venture across the street, but tonight we made it in time to witness the last of it leaving the sky, its rays almost a memory above the mountains. A soft and flowing line of clouds divided the sky in half, an uneven, thick, white racing stripe that meandered lazily back and forth; on one side the pale crumbs of the day, on the other, a deep star-speckled blue knitted by the softest, gentlest hands you've ever touched. Duncan led me around the park to the management offices where the bunnies herd up and I watched that night blanket fold itself over the world, slowly and softly, without a sound. Duncan pulled me up the hill where the sun's rays kissed his face and the fur at his chest one last time, and in that instant I felt the day wash away, felt the tension slipping from my back and neck and felt my faith in the goodness of the universe return just a little. An enormous flock of geese flew low around the base of Rebel Hill where we stood, their calls shattering my silence like nature's farts, but as I craned my neck back and turned to watch them pass overhead, I thought of the Mary Oliver poem and remembered that even the things we do not like have purpose in our lives:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

So I allowed the blanket to fall over me and as Duncan led me home I could not stop smiling, for the peace beneath it was exactly what I had earned.


Greg said...

Beautiful photo at the end there. Sorry to hear about your being trod upon at work - that always sucks, but at least you have your beautiful boy to lead you out of your woes at the day's end.

Sue said...

Awesome post Curt. I loved the poem, and the perspective of the picture.