Last Day on Earth
If it's the title of a movie you expect
everything to become important - a kiss,
a shrug, a glass of wine, a walk with the dog.
But if the day is real, life is only
as significant as yesterday - the kiss
hurried, the shrug forgotten, and now,
on the path by the river, you don't notice
the sky darkening beyond the pines because
you're imagining what you'll say at dinner,
swirling the wine in your glass.
You don't notice the birds growing silent
or the cold towers of clouds moving in,
because you're explaining how lovely
and cool it was in the woods. And the dog
had stopped limping! - she seemed
her old self again, sniffing the air and alert,
the way dogs are to whatever we can't see.
And I was happy, you hear yourself saying,
because it felt as if I'd been allowed
to choose my last day on earth,
and this was the one I chose.
- Lawrence Raab
Mistaking Each Other For Ghosts
"All I know is that I've wasted all these years looking for something, a sort of trophy I'd get only if I really, really did enough to deserve it. But I don't want it anymore, I want something else now, something warm and sheltering, something I can turn to, regardless of what I do, regardless of who I become. Something that will just be there, always, like tomorrow's sky. That's what I want now, and I think it's what you should want too."
- Kazuo Ishiguro
"I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab onto and extend to one another. That's the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don't see it, because I'm too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I'm about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting."
- Shauna Niequist
"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back - in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
- Frederick Buechner
"Anger, [Evagrius] wrote, is given to us by God to help us confront true evil. We err when we use it casually, against other people, to gratify our own desires for power or control."
- Kathleen Norris
The Cloister Walk
Plunging over Niagara you hold
this picture in your hand: a summer day
arranging itself serenely onward, a lawn,
daisies, roses, a single pine in the sky
with a crow flying and a flicker calling, then
all stopped in the camera, one tremendous
instant that the world will never achieve again.
Now you own that, just for the cost of reading
this page. Assemble yourself and go on.
Don't worry about it. No, I didn't
mean you really plunge over Niagara.
- William Stafford
"There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgements, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her."
"My friend Suzie told me while I was driving her home from that bar about the real meaning of the blindfolded figure of Justice holding the scales. Suzie was drawing her own tarot cards and rethinking each card as she went. Justice, a book on classical lore asserted, stood at the gates of Hades deciding who would go in, and to go in was to be chosen for refinement through suffering, adventure, transformation, a punishing route to the reward that is the transformed self. It made going to hell seem different. And it suggested that justice is a far more complicated and incalculable thing than we often imagine, that if everything is to come out even in the end, then the end is farther away than anticipated and far harder to estimate. It suggests too that to reside in comfort can be to have fallen by the wayside. Go to hell, but keep moving once you get there, come out the other side. Finally she drew a group around a campfire as her picture of justice, saying that justice is helping each other on the journey."
- Rebecca Solnit
Letter to a Friend
Who knows what age will bring besides your death?
You think you see your future plod before you,
eventless, a blunt-tooth cog of certainty,
churning for years of noon in summer heat,
but haven't there been times when suddenly you saw
something which had been there all along
and nothing had changed but you, a certain slant
of age, perhaps, or disposition of the eyes,
some newfound sensitivity, awakened when
adversity scraped the skin of your perception?
The starving leaves now blaze with colors
not seen until articulated by the frost.
These years of erosion may yet uncover forgotten
ruins - your own, standing there like a child,
holding out the key to your next room.
- Fred Dings
Eulogy for a Private Man