When I Used to Study Poetry: an effort in being in the moment

How decadent, that I studied for a master’s of fine arts in poetry. (From Goddard College.) And what a true gift.

It was two years of delving into the words, of turning over how a leaf might look or the sound of the rain, or the laughter behind a voice new to me or one I knew very well. Looking for the nuance and the detail in everything around me. Celebrating it. Holding it sacred.

What I didn’t realize back then was that I was studying the moments of life – I was living so fully, so completely, so in the moment, so appreciative of life itself. That’s what noticing does for us: it brings us into the moment and banishes any worries or desires for used-to-be or maybe-some-day.

There are poems taped to the wall of my home office because back then, I was a different person, who cut out inspiring little missives wherever I might find them and tacked them up near me so every day, as I slodged through my work, I’d see something inspiring.

The thing is, when you have something around you all the time, you stop noticing it.

Isn’t that the irony? What you cherish the most you see the least. Anticipating, waiting to become a mother, eventually I only wanted to quiet the crying baby. In those late, gloamy nights, I didn’t gaze upon my little baby and whisper, “This is what I waited for.” No, it was the exhaustion of new motherhood that took center stage, not the incredible gratitude I had somewhere deep inside for becoming a mother to wonderful children.

So today, I sat down before the computer to write here and suddenly noticed Yehuda Amichai’s wonderful poem that is yellow and crinkled on my wall, since I taped it there probably a decade ago.

So I must share it with you because this morning, I noticed it differently. I read the lines and marveled at how incredible and beautiful and stark this poem is. I noticed it as if for the first time, as if after being away on a long journey.

Which I suppose I have been.

Here it is. Enjoy it with me.

NOW WHEN THE WATERS ARE PRESSING MIGHTILY

Now, when the waters are pressing mightily

on the walls of the dams,

now, when the white storks, returning,

are transformed in the middle of the firmament

into fleets of jet planes,

we will feel again how strong are the ribs

and how vigorous is the warm air in the lungs

and how much daring is needed to love on the exposed plain,

when the great dangers are arched above,

and how much love is required

to fill all the empty vessels

and the watches that stopped telling time,

and how much breath,

a whirlwind of breath,

to sing the small song of spring.

— Yehuda Amichai

If only we saw the world in all its many dimensions and colors every moment of every day. Yesterday, on the way to school, my kids and I set an intention for our day. At the end of the day, we reconnected and shared whether we’d achieved what we set out to do.

So today, I’ll share with you my intention: to live this day fully, to see and notice and take in the details, to breathe slowly and deeply, to relish the experiences as if each one is a first.

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