Lucky Life

October, talk getting nowhere
November… December… remember
We just start it again

(from the song “Please” by U2)

I may not be as diligent about writing this December as I was during the last (33 posts in one month!) but I should at least make a good faith effort early and hope that it helps build momentum.

The benefits of participation are revealing themselves already. Were it not for this challenge, I would not have just been poking around in another participant’s (Val) blog and I would not have had the good fortune to read a post from awhile back where she copied the text of a poem that is one of the nicest things I’ve read in awhile.

“Lucky Life” by Gerald Stern

Lucky life isn’t one long string of horrors
and there are moments of peace, and pleasure, as I lie in between the blows.
Lucky I don’t have to wake up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
on the hill overlooking Union Square or the hill overlooking
Kuebler Brewery or the hill overlooking SS. Philip and James
but have my own hills and my own vistas to come back to.

Each year I go down to the island I add
one more year to the darkness;
and though I sit up with my dear friends
trying to separate the one year from the other,
this one from the last, that one from the former,
another from another,
after a while they all get lumped together,
the year we walked to Holgate,
the year our shoes got washed away,
the year it rained,
the year my tooth brought misery to us all.

This year was a crisis. I knew it when we pulled
the car onto the sand and looked for the key.
I knew it when we walked up the outside steps
and opened the hot icebox and began the struggle
with swollen drawers and I knew it when we laid out
the sheets and separated the clothes into piles
and I knew it when we made our first rush onto
the beach and I knew it when we finally sat
on the porch with coffee cups shaking in our hands.

My dream is I’m walking through Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
and I’m lost on South Main Street. I am trying to tell,
by memory, which statue of Christopher Columbus
I have to look for, the one with him slumped over
and lost in weariness or the one with him
vaguely guiding the way with a cross and globe in
one hand and a compass in the other.
My dream is I’m in the Eagle Hotel on Chamber Street
sitting at the oak bar, listening to two
obese veterans discussing Hawaii in 1942,
and reading the funny signs over the bottles.
My dream is I sleep upstairs over the honey locust
and sit on the side porch overlooking the stone culvert
with a whole new set of friends, mostly old and humorless.

Dear waves, what will you do for me this year?
Will you drown out my scream?
Will you let me rise through the fog?
Will you fill me with that old salt feeling?
Will you let me take my long steps in the cold sand?
Will you let me lie on the white bedspread and study
the black clouds with the blue holes in them?
Will you let me see the rusty trees and the old monoplanes one more year?
Will you still let me draw my sacred figures
and move the kites and the birds around with my dark mind?

Lucky life is like this. Lucky there is an ocean to come to.
Lucky you can judge yourself in this water.
Lucky you can be purified over and over again.
Lucky there is the same cleanliness for everyone.
Lucky life is like that. Lucky life. Oh lucky life.
Oh lucky lucky life. Lucky life.

U2 is right. A lot of times talk gets us nowhere. Becca too hit the nail on the head yesterday with, “Saying the right things doesn’t change anything. I’ve finally learned that relying on talk alone only serves to create more of the same: The next year, the next president, the next relationship — they’ll play out just like the last one. That is, unless our behaviors change.” How many times have I done this? How many times have I thought, “Okay, wait. Let me try this again. Let me say the same thing I’ve already said to you ten times just ONE MORE TIME. I’ll sift through the words for the one that eluded me until now, but I’ll find it and use it and BAM, you’ll totally get it this time.”

I’ve talked in circles for sure, but I’ve also acted in circles. Sometimes frantically, grasping at sharp straws better left alone and sometimes aimlessly, as I sort of feel like I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. I dig my life, let’s not get confused about that for one second. But (and I realize how bizarre this might sound coming from someone who hates change and LOVES routine as much as I do), all the damn days seem like they’re all the damn same a lot of the time. It is zero percent coincidental that this mini-ennui followed the completion of Jenny’s Great and Scary Marathon Adventure 2011. I ran towards something with such purpose for so long then when it ended, a part of me did too. Whoa melodrama, slow your roll! Truly though, with the goal realized in such a spectacularly awesome and fun way, the loss of it has proven sadder than I would have expected. Yep, I’m registered for October 2012 and may do another one before that even, but the first is over. So it’s time for another first. I’m not sure what that will be yet, and frankly didn’t even realize that was what I needed until about nine seconds ago.

"Dear waves, what will you do for me this year?"

The words and the years may seem the same and be hard to differentiate from each other – has there been a year in the last ten when I didn’t feel gratitude at its end for friends, poker nights and golden retrievers? I don’t think so. But that’s some pretty good sameness and it’s a pretty lucky life.


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