Friday, October 27, 2006

Rolling On

My favorite American poet was/is Robert Creeley who passed away in 2005. I once rescued a book of his, "Words", from my car which was burning down at the time. I had to shove a firefighter away to get to it. I had not finished the book yet, and I was not about to let it birn before I had. I snatched it from the front seat, stomped out the flames coming from the burning paperback cover with my feet on the wet lawn.

Many years later, I had a chance to show him that book. He leafed through it, slowly and with great care, noting things I had underlined or made marginal notes about, commenting about how he could not write such and so poem again, as it was a function of a time in his life, but how glad he was to have been able to feel what brought him to that particular gathering of words. He closed the book after a time, and smoothed his hands absently over the singed cover, the water-warped pages. "Such should be the good fortune of all books -- to be cared for in such a way." He was going to be doing a reading that night and asked if there was anything I would especially like to hear. He was a gracious man, amd a brilliant one.

I recently read an article written by Bruce Jackson in which he recalls an interview he did with Creeley. In it he says :

We'd been talking about the deaths of friends and then about how both of us were workaholics and how we'd probably be hard at it, right to the end. It was a conversation we'd had before and would have again. But that time Bob said something he'd never said before, nor did he say it subsequently: "You know," he said, "you're not going to finish anyhow."

"You're not going to finish anyhow." That had never occurred to me. I don't know when Bob realized it. What a brilliant, liberating notion that is. "You're not going to finish anyhow." What a beastly burden that frees you of. It licenses you to take on anything.


I love that !!! I was thinking about The Great Life In General Issues today, and I got a sense of humankind just rolling this great big ball forward, with various of us falling away from it after 70 or 80 years (if we were lucky), but that the ball kept moving on -- that everything we did contributed, whether we finished it or not -- and that our lives were not meant to be finished and tidy little packets, but part of the whole steamy, active, incomplete Effort of Life.

The joy is in the urging forward - the taking on -- the moving. I keep thinking that this is even the testimony of Christ -- nothing is done, nothing is final, not even death. We are not here to finish. We are here to participate. To contribute. To be a part of The Creation.

4 Comments:

Blogger alto artist said...

Yes! And I happened to read this post while sitting here deciding whether to take on a new challenge...and now I think I must, because moving forward can only bring more joy, as you so beautifully write. As it says in the the Pirkei Avot ("Ethics of the Fathers," compiled by brilliant third c. rabbis): "It is not upon you to complete the task, but you are not free to desist from it."
--aa.

10:50 PM  
Blogger samtzmom said...

What a lovely way to look at life! Just participate and contribute for heaven's sake! :c) I love that!!!

9:32 PM  
Blogger beth said...

I love this, in light of our faith, especially. We are here to participate.

Great post. Amen.

9:57 PM  
Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

I always liked 'Four Days in Vermont' it takes me back to my first ever saty in the wilderness - a precious time i will never forget and every time i read this....i remember....

'Window's tree trunk's predominant face
a single eye-leveled hole where limb's torn off
another larger contorts to swell growing in around
imploding wound beside a clutch of thin twigs
hold to one two three four five six dry twisted
yellowish brown leaves flat against the other
gray trees in back stick upright then the glimpse
of lighter still grayish sky behind the close
welted solid large trunk with clumps of gray-green
lichen seen in boxed glass squared window back
of two shaded lamps on brown chiffonier between
two beds echo in mirror on far wall of small room.'

hope you are feeling better

7:29 AM  

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