What will I do with my one wild and precious life? Where shall I invest my treasured time and energy? For the best use? For the greatest good? To the highest purpose? In a way that supports me? It’s been 19 months now, and still, I find myself asking these same questions. For a time, I get absorbed in a passion, then a goal, then a task, then a diversion. I find enthusiasm. But then it goes. Right now, self-care is good, but next month it may wane. And if my self-care is good, other things are suffering – the house, the garden, long-distance relationships, civic duty…
Poet Lynn Ungar offers some insight. It starts a bit bleakly, but stay with it. The end is worth it…
The Last Good Days
What will you do with the last good days?
Before the seas rise and the skies close in,
before the terrible bill
for all our thoughtless wanting
finally comes due?
What will you do
with the last fresh morning,
filled with the watermelon scent
of cut grass and the insistent
bird calling sweet sweet
across the shining day?
Crops are dying, economies failing,
men crazy with the lust for power and fame
are shooting up movie theaters and
engineering the profits of banks.
It is entirely possible
it only gets worse from here.
How can you leave your heart
open to such a vast, pervasive sadness?
How can you close your eyes
to the riot of joy and beauty
The solutions, if there are any
to be had, are complex, detailed,
demanding. The answers
are immediate and small.
Wake up. Give thanks. Sing.
This is what I can do on a day like today in the middle of a pandemic when my heart hurts that I can’t save the world – or even one soul. I can wake up, give thanks, and sing. And perhaps dance. The rest will have to wait. For what or Whom I’m not sure. But I have noticed that when I do the things I need to do – when I practice – when I give thanks, when I sing, when I dance, when I get on my mat – I can hold the heartache a little more easily. I don’t feel so helpless. I’m happier. Easier to live with. And that is a perfectly fine passion for today. A worthy goal. A valid task. A respectable diversion.
For more about Lynn Ungar, visit lynnungar.com