Friday, October 05, 2018

Poetry Friday: Antidotes to Anxiety

There's a lot to be anxious about these days, isn't there? I sat at lunch yesterday with three other mothers, and we talked about the things we worry about, the things that threaten our children. They are real things; we live in a dangerous world. We talked about trusting God and being prepared, that balance that is so hard to find.

I'm not going to tell you what our specific concerns were, because maybe our list isn't yours, and I don't want to add more worries to you, my friend. You have enough already, if you watch the news, or love other human beings, or live on this planet. Today, instead, I have some antidotes: a Wendell Berry poem that's been on my mind lately, a Mary Chapin Carpenter song I just downloaded, and some photos I took yesterday to focus myself on the beauty of the here and now.

So here you go. I hope something here works for you. Feel free to share in the comments any additions to my offerings.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Here are the words to this beautiful song:

Sometimes Just the Sky
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Noises in my head
And endless should-haves rain
On me like a storm
Like a hurricane
Losses piled up like wood
Stacked stories high
Feels like I've been framed
I have no alibi

Used to be that all I needed
Was what I didn't possess
Yearning makes you who you
End up as, more or less
Whatever choice I made
That worked out
Was just a lucky guess
Just a lucky guess

Adventures half-discarded
Half held onto now
Dancing on the ledge
To the edge somehow

I can still pick out the faces
Though I forget the names
And places that I've gone
But the urge remains
To throw caution to the wind
Or is it to the stars?
To hold out my open hands
Despite my empty arms
To wear my heart down on my sleeve
Just like a battle scar
These are battle scars

There's comfort in a late night
Kitchen's radio
And in a letter sent
Lists of what you know
When you don't know anything
You make another one
It's good to write it down
Starting with the sun
And sometimes church bells
Trees and seasons
Marking times gone by
Sometimes starlings swell
Some tidal moons
And filled up eyes
Sometimes everything at once
But sometimes just the sky
Sometimes just the sky

I've written here before about my daily photography habit. Today's prompt is "One View, Four Ways," and it was a good one. I woke up Thursday morning in a severe funk, and taking several sets of four photos - our gate, a tree, hibiscus flowers - helped change my perspective. I picked the hibiscus to share, and I hope it does the same for you.

Each day is a hand-made treasure, and that's true even in the middle of the mess that the world is. Do something that won't compute. Laugh. Make lists of things you know. And gaze at beauty. Each hibiscus flower (or autumn leaf, or whatever you have handy - even if it's just the sky) is worth gazing at, and then gazing at again.

Tabatha has today's roundup.


jama said...

Thank you so much for this post, Ruth -- just what the doctor ordered. Loved it all -- Berry's poem, Carpenter's song, your lovely hibiscus photos. It's good to commiserate with friends, share the beauty and the burden.

Linda B said...

"Each day is a hand-made treasure" & I thank you for each part of your lovely post, Ruth. We do need treasures today.

tanita✿davis said...

Oh. This is all just glorious. Thank you so much.

Buffy Silverman said...

Ah Wendell Berry--thanks for sharing this, including your hibiscus photos.

Linda Mitchell said...

woah--that Wendell Berry poem is amazing. It specifically addresses me this week, my nation this week. How does he do that? Thank you for sharing that and the lyrics and the flower. What a bouquet.

Jane @ said...

I recently closed my Twitter account because all the negativity was just wearing me down - it seems like all news is bad news these days, and we can all use all the antidotes to worry and sadness that we can get. Thank you for sharing this with us, and your lovely photos, a much-needed moment of beauty in my hectic day!

Tabatha said...

"every day do something
that won’t compute"
I'll see what I can do ;-)
Thanks for the Berry! xo

Mary Lee said...

THANK you, thank YOU, thank you,

Wendell Berry + Just the Sky = shoulders drop a notch

Kay said...

Thank you for offering much needed and very welcomed antidotes. Yes, every day do something that won't compute. And now I want to find the Mary Chapin Carpenter song - so much of her music speaks to me.

Michelle Kogan said...

Gorgeous Hibiscus Ruth, thanks for sharing their beauty with us–the comforting, soulful music, and sighing poem.