The past couple of days I’ve been trying to sit quietly with a couple of indisputable facts.
1). I am going to die. This is nothing exclusive to me, of course. However, being given a diagnosis of a probably terminal condition brings it to bear in a way that I can usually escape.
2). The person I love does not love me. Again, a common condition among us. Which doesn’t make suffering the effects of unrequited love any more tolerable.
What does my “sitting quietly” consist of?
Mostly walking around outdoors.
Last night I walked all night around my condo development, around the meadow and the pond and through the woods and finally onto The Strip, where I then walked around a 24/7 big box store for a couple of hours. Luckily I had not brought any cash or bank card along on this middle of the night stroll, so I couldn’t do any further damage to my nearly-dead budget.
(This is a major issue when you have Bipolar Disorder Type I, as I do. Although I am on meds and most of the very, very, very worst symptoms are pretty much under control, impulsive spending rears its ugly head in my life on a nearly daily, or even several-times-a-day, basis.)
Then today after trying for most of an hour to read Antigone for my Classics course (see here for a brief mention of the class, which I’m taking over the summer term at the local university), I gave up because of lack of focus. I went for another walk, this time back at Scioto Grove Metro Park, which is also lends subject matter in the same post as above, as well as in this post.
During these walks, I contemplated a poem by Mary Oliver, published first in 1992.
“When Death Comes”
from New and Selected Poems, Volume One, (Beacon Press, Boston, 1992)
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door, full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Although parenthetically I must add that while I was tromping through the mud at Scioto Grove, where once again I was caught in another thunderstorm, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t the bear have been hungrier in the spring?”