By Thursday of every week, if I don’t know what I’m going to write here on Sundays, I begin to wait on the muse. I go on lookout for the quiet ding that sounds when she throws a topic my way. If the ding doesn’t sound, I rummage through my journal for something. I had decided to put down the little lines of poetry/attempted haiku I’d written in the week, nothing polished, just play paint with words over my finding a perfectly preserved yet perfectly dead bee.
But a local newspaper story about former poet laureate W.S Merwin made me hear the ding. “When the Poet Laureate appointment came along, Merwin used it as a platform to comment on human imagination and life as a whole,” read the story, ‘which does not just include this self-important human species,’ he notes. Merwin says he feels exhilarated to be part of something infinite. His poems circle that feeling, the ongoing mystery, it continues.
‘The comets burn out and black holes disappear,’ he says. ‘There’s nothing good or bad about that. That’s the way it is. I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going and it’s wonderful to be here.’
Reading that, I was reminded with both a pang and a ding that gratitude each day for the very fact of being alive has to be part of the triumph on this flintier, shadier part of the path I’ve entered, otherwise bitterness tastes in my mouth and shows on my face and in my eyes. Merwin exhibited an aging with grace, not an easy accomplishment.
Who do you know who is aging with grace? What’s their secret? What’s yours? What is grace?