Saying ‘Yes’ – Though I Really Don’t Know

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

to see

a bend in the river up ahead

and still

say

yes.

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’.