Everyone knows that I write lousy poetry. I lack the knack, if you will. I also have no ability for short-story-writing, constructing plays, or authoring novels. If I had to write something technical as a condition of release, I’d die in jail.
But I give good letter, and passable essay.
So, letter it is, then, because I have something to say.
It’s been a bumpy six decades. Along the way, my innocence fell from me, a vestigial organ serving no purpose. With it went a sheaf of grace, a smattering of wonderment, and the capacity for easy forgiveness.
As I approach my sixty-second birthday, I look back at the last three years, my tenure in this forum — at least to date. I realize that I might have reclaimed my human virginity – not the sexual kind; I lost that one bewildered night in 1973 in a SLU dorm room. It’s history. But my undefiled humanity seems to have resurged. I’m experiencing a rebirth of purity.
So, I hereby take a stand. For whatever time I remain in this existence, I change my allegiance. I cross the line. I no longer want to be angry. Dear Universe, if we’re picking sides in the human equation, I declare myself to be on the side of love and light.
When someone suffers, I want to ease their anguish. This holds true even if they sag under the weight of guilt, the unwieldy burden of doing wrong to another including, yes,including those who have done ‘wrong’ to me. When they declare that they have no idea why I would be nice to them, I want to whisper, “Oh, but I think you do.”
And that reason? Not because I want their guilt to multiply in the face of my compassion, but because I want them to relinquish guilt. Because, dear Universe, see above. I choose love.
Many hours have seen me lament the burdens you have thrown my way. Many days have drawn to a darkened close around my shaking shoulders. My head sagged onto my arms on the cluttered table. I raged. I howled. I groaned.
But then the light rose in the eastern sky. I took my coffee outside and watched the squirrels chase each other around the trunk of the gnarled maple. I sank into the rocking chair and told myself, “Well, I made it through yet another night which seemed impossible to endure.” Day after day, the same phenomenon. I survived the unendurable.
On a scale of Nirvana to Tragedy, I’m somewhere in between. I’ve seen less pain than a starving child, and more, perhaps, than the clueless man who slides across the bench seat of his rented limousine. Or – maybe not. I remind you, my eternal friend, that suffering is not a competitive sport. I survived what you sent me to conquer, though at times I did so with a sour look and an angry thrust of my quivering chin.
Dear Universe. Let’s put that all behind us. Let’s link arms, and sally forth, on the cobbled path to something more grand. We might disagree on the expected contours of paradise. I’d like an oak rocker; you favor a metal glider. But we share one goal, and that goal makes all the misshapen trappings worthwhile.
Like me, dear Universe, you choose joy. So, come along.
It’s the thirtieth day of the forty-fourth month of My (oh-so-very-long, possibly incessant) Year [Striving, With All My Might, to Learn to Stumble Through Each Day] Without Complaining. Life continues.
Mary-Corinne Teresa Corley