I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has
given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.
~Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899
A few years ago, a photographer friend introduced me to another writer, Naomi Shihab Nye. She was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother.
Let me quote some of her poems that really touched me:
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend. “
And here’s her thought on reading:
“I love the solitude of reading. I love the deep dive into someone else’s story, the delicious ache of a last page.”
I really could relate to her because when I read, I am transported to another world – a world of fantasy or make-belief, a world of triumph or defeat, a world of happiness or loneliness but despite all these, I am mesmerized, feeling as if I were there in one particular place, feeling as if the pain and hurts are my own and the triumphs are a joyous celebration of life.
And here’s another line I like:
“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in. ”
A jumble of lovely thoughts that fills one’s mind and feeds one’s soul. Again I wish I could find some of her book of poems, one I could read again and again, one I could be friends with when I feel alone.
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”- anne morrow lindbergh
The silence, more palpable than it ever was before. The beauty that Nature brings. I’ve always been in awe of these gifts – when you think of life, grateful for the message that it brings. Sometimes, I wish I were nearer the sea and let my feet sink in the sand, listen to the sound of splashing waves and find maybe a sea glass or two to store in my jar of memories.
If there are writers I am always fond of quoting, two names come to mind, that of Mary Oliver and Ann Morrow Lindbergh. I have two book of poems by the former and a lovely little book called Gift From The Sea by the latter. They are those authors whose thoughts you would read time and again and every time you do, you find more reasons to smile.
“And then, some morning…. the mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense—no—but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind; what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channeled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.” – Gift From The Sea