Midlife – Julie Cadwallader-Staub
This is as far as the light
of my understanding
has carried me:
an October morning
a canoe built by hand
a quiet current
above me the trees are
green and golden
against a cloudy sky
below me the river responds
with perfect reflection
a hundred feet deep
a hundred feet high.
To take a cup of this river
to drink its purple and gray
its golden and green
a bend in the river up ahead
If there is anything that the last few days has taught us, it’s that we can be awed, humbled, frightened, moved and bested. We can be rendered powerless and exhibit mind-boggling levels of strength and determination.
I can’t help but notice how simply exhausted the trees look. Everything but their trunks looks bowed and submissive. I feel like they need the winter. They need the rest. As impressively as they stand, as they cradle the birds (who were having an absolute flight fest yesterday as they celebrated the end of the storm and were just heading in droves over to each other’s houses to catch up on the neighborhood news), as they release their leaves, I can feel them sigh. It’s enough. Just a little break, a time to be fallow. It sounds silly – I look at them and my eyes fill.
I had the misfortune of hearing an Ann Coulter sound byte where she was opining about the presidential campaign in the States, and defended her use of the word ‘retard’ as a descriptive. My shoulders sagged, my head bent and my breath caught. Really? Please don’t lecture me on the finer points of free speech. I’m tired. I’ve wearied of the season – the glaring examples of ugliness, the mean-spirited back-and-forth that in my view diminishes any substance to drivel. Name calling – on Facebook, Twitter – are we done yet? I am interested and intrigued by opinions other than my own, but honestly I don’t do offensive posturing well. You lost me with your first epithet, your first invective. I’m done. I need the arrival of the fallow season.
I try (emphasis on ‘try’) to ask myself a few questions before I open my mouth (unless I’m singing of course) – “Is it honest?” “Is it true?” “Is it kind?” Would that these would be the rules that govern our more incendiary social conversations. Of course I realize that there are many who prefer the in-your-face discussion, voices raised, opinions morphing into facts – bet they don’t like me very much. I will not engage.
And so the day moves inexorably into its morning, and the sun is still hesitating to make an appearance. As the clouds cast shadows on the remaining golds and reds and yellows above me, I honor the insistent posture of the trees. I stand with the people who have lost so much and still rise with some belief and inner conviction that there will be a new season. And though I am not sure why, I too say ‘yes’.
39 thoughts on “Saying ‘Yes’ – Though I Really Don’t Know”
Beautifully written. As the mantle passes from the warmer days of wearing shorts, to cooler and grayer days with a sweatshirt keeping us warm, you poeticaly make it all seem so okay. And for your ability to poke Ann Coulter in the eye while you bend your words gently in the breeze, you rock babe.
Thanks sweetie..I just can’t shake how tired this vitriol makes me, how heavy the burden for those who’s conscience can’t absorb absolute, strident assaults – like the wind assaulted the trees..
So beautiful. I love how you despair over the burden trees seem to carry. It is poetic and sorrowful and to then tie that into us humans and our unthinking unkind ways – brought tears to my eyes.
Thank you..somehow it all seemed interconnected to me today..And I can’t abide cruelty in the name of free speech, the mantle of self-righteousness in lieu of understanding. And somehow the exhaustion of the trees felt completely understandable to me.
No words. Just tears. And, awe – for you once again nailed it. Xoxoxo
Makes me weary…love you Jo..xoxo
Then, lean on me for a while. It’s okay to be tired, it takes courage to admit to it. I am here – always.
I know you are sweetheart..and I know you’re shouldering your own load right now. Mine will pass far sooner than your return to normalcy after Sandy…And so I say to you – I’m never too weary to be there for you..xox
Ahhh, honey, you’re so wise, and so, so right.
Watched the President and NJ Governor Chris Christy on the news this morning, touring the ‘remains’ of the Jersey coastline and a lump grew in my throat. They have clearly put aside the partisan political bickering in favor of a larger goal–helping their citizens, ALL of their citizens, get back on their feet and begin to put their lives back together again. My heart swelled with pride and I was reminded of all the reasons I love this country…..until the news switched to some partisan, out-there member of the Republican party who was castigating Christy for ‘pandering’ and having the temerity to say anything complimentary about the President. At which point my eyes filled with tears and I switched off the TV. Really?! I’m with you, honey, wearied by it all, yet at the same time looking to the future and knowing that *good* things will happen today. And that is what I’m going to focus on…. “The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.” Kahlil Gibran
..to the moon….xo, L
You’re spot on as always Lori – today marvelous, wondrous, special things will happen. And therein is the beauty of each day – the element of possibility. Thank you for the reminder, so gently provided, as always..to the moon…xo, m
I am in total agreement with your comments. Probably because I am so close to the situation, being the President and Governor Christie were 15 minutes from my town. And regardless of my Politics, I was so grateful they were both so united and wanted to help my communitites who so desperately need it. I was proud of the fact they put politics aside to help us out. At that point, regardless of what the pundits said, they were wrong to me. Because I know the President and Governor Christie were doing what is best for all of us.
Hoping that your situation is improving! I lived in Princeton for 10 years and loved it, so have a soft spot in my heart for many places in New Jersey. Too much sadness and loss over the last week to be engaging in partisan bickering and potshots, that’s what I’m thinking….take good care….
Gorgeous. I have always had a soft spot for trees – for their strength, elegance, wisdom and grace. Maybe I make that up, but that is how trees make me feel. I love your analogy here and look forward to the end of the political antics too. Thank you for another beautiful post. See, I would FP THIS one!! 🙂
Laughing..Well Jenni, then they should put you on the FP Committee!! Thank you for the smile – it’s much appreciated!! 😉
As with all of your posts, Mimi, this one is truly amazing—perhaps my favorite!
Thank you so much!! I wasn’t sure when I posted it, whether or not it was really all that good. I so appreciate your thoughts – they make me feel really happy! 🙂
Happy is good! I love happy 😉
Me too!! Something else we have in common!! 😉
Simply beautiful Mimi, the trees my way are taking off their clothes preparing for a nice winter rest. Enjoy the rest of this beautiful day.
Thank you Tina – I hope the rest of your day is equally as wonderful..
I was out with my mother today and we were discussing all the large trees that were scattered around due to Sandy. My mother said “those tree are just like people, the older we get the more frail we are even though we are larger.” Little children can fall and brush themselves off, if I fall I’m done.” “We’re all living things Lisa” You never now what you’ll learn on the way to the super market.
All I can say about Ann is….she leaves me silent.
I love that your mom is still with you and imparting wisdom in such a magnificent way..!! She sounds pretty darn special…like her child. As to Ann – me too.
Wonderful post, Mimi. Love the metaphor of trees needing rest. We all need rest- to heal, to find our roots and to welcome new growth when the sun lights us again. Well done!
You are eloquence in words, and in fact the word poetic came to mind when I first read this …
And the compassion you feel for the trees, seeing their exhaustion from standing tall is indicative of your heart and how much you care for everything that goes on around you. One of your best Mims…but I could say that every day! xoxo
I’m really so happy that this one was worthy Bon! It’s been simmering for a couple of days – the stark realities of Sandy and people showing their absolute finest – like a tree when it’s new leaves first burst forth – and then this abhorrent/aberrant comment from Coulter – and within moments, I felt humanity diminished by her insensitivity – it all sorta came together…love you..xo
Far removed from your ‘Sandy’ storm here, but have survived others in the past, so understand the mixed emotions of seeing both the majesty and the devastation at the same time.
Glad that you are looking forward to a new season.
By the way, did you see the smiley face made by the birds under the rainbow in the photo you posted?
Seems as if it a message………..
I most certainly did!! That’s why I posted it – the idea that despite all, there are still reasons to smile..
What a beautiful post. Loved your connectedness with the trees – they are so precious, and for the most part,so un-appreciated . And I so agreed with your questions… is it honest, true, kind? I brought my children up asking them if what they are done was kind, instead of castigating them for whatever they’d done. The world needs kindness so much… maybe that will be one of the things your terrible storm has and will bring out. We’ve been with you in our thoughts this side of the world.
Thank you Valerie – interestingly, I used to pose the same question to my sons…We are ok, my sister in NY has been without power since the storm and friends in NY and NJ and northern Connecticut have fared worse. And then there are others who have truly sustained the worst..
When mother nature has a tantrum us humans can be so strong and amazing in how we deal with her tantrum, Sandy was a massive tantrum and people have shown how amazing they are just dealing and surviving her……………..
That’s certainly true Joanne – people come together in times of crisis in many exemplary ways..
Sigh (that captures it – all of the ugly political season)
Only a few days left and the election season will be over, you must all be sick and tired of it all by now. Mother Nature cast her vote, and funnily enough made an impression on everyone. Climate change is back on the political agenda.
And I for one am very happy that it is back on the agenda Alex – regardless of what some naysayers insist.
Every time I visit your blog I feel like I’ve come home to a kind and loving family. I miss you when I’m gone and wish I could get WordPress to have them send your posts to me when you publish them as I’ve repeatedly requested via clicking on your “follow” button.
I wish the ‘follow’ button would work for you Russ, for I miss you when I don’t hear from you..You are part of this family of mine,and your presence is always felt and welcomed with big hugs and smiles..It’s good to ‘see you’…:-)