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The Waking

Last week, one of my lovely friends sent me an email with a poem (few things make me happier), because she had been "musing about strength and how one can develop and foster her own strength etc," alongside a recent conversation we'd had.*

The poem was perfectly apt, and so we talked a bit about strength, and endurance and how life always has glitches and struggles that we cannot avoid. There is only one way ahead, and we have to go there.

Going where you have to go. Doing the needful, another friend calls it.

But doing it in a certain way. One that expects capacity to increase, I guess, and believes that going where you have to go is ultimately going to be GOOD.

I often think about this when things are overwhelming, or something in me resists what is inevitable, unavoidable, or already chosen: do I believe that the outcome will be good? That it will be worth it? Why or why not? If I do, then how do I help myself press on? If I don't, why do I feel the need to press on? 

Sometimes, I simply forget that the longterm goal, or even the bigger scope of the journey, is well-worth this moment (or week, or month, or year) of difficulty. Sometimes I forget that where I want to go and how I get there will not be exactly the same, and I need to be reminded that part of strength is autonomy, and that everywhere I go, I choose to go. It is pure and simple as that.

I choose where I go. And I own those choices. There is no external force to blame. If a situation is sad, or unpleasant, or requires sacrifice, I am not powerless. And I also need not run. I can walk forward.

I'm with Theodore Roethke:

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

*My days are full right now. I'm working full-time in an unpaid position, trying to contribute to our new little household, take care of a dog, visit with friends, enjoy these summery evenings, laugh, build an honest marriage, rest, etc etc. The usual things of life. There is no crisis, no tragic situation. Though these thoughts, I believe, would be relevant even then. Perhaps it is in these little things, going where I have to go on a daily basis that will build my capacity to keep going whatever life may through my way. I hope and pray that's true. For a moment, I almost added, "And I hope and pray I don't have to find out for a long long time" - but that seems to me a futile wish. It may or may not. But I have these days, now, and in this moment, I want to love and laugh and learn as I go where I have to go. 


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