Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Chronic illness has brought my life to a relative standstill; much of my life is spent propped-up on pillows in my bed, where I dabble in research and creative work, which is mostly knitting and painting with a soft brush and gentle watercolors. My mind does not work so well as it used to, and my fingertips grind and give pain as I type, so my writing life suffers. Still I'll visit my blogs, and think to myself how much richness I had in my life when I could write... And some days, I'll add a little something, as I am now. Often I'm motivated by the guilt that haunts idleness-- I really ought to write something, it's been a year!!-- But on this day? It was the fish.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Back in October, I added the little strip of koi at the top of my page. If you click on the blackness, wee bits of food will appear, and the fish will make a swim for it. Sometimes I will visit my page just to feed them, and watch them dart about. Yes, I know full well they are not "real", but the brilliance behind their design is, and I suppose that is what I am feeding: the brilliance, and humor, of excellent design.
And that got me to thinking about the Fish on Wheels.
Here in my bed, I feel the days rather melt together, and some days melt themselves into despair. Like anyone else with a chronic illness, many days of mine are upbeat and promising; but the reality of living with limited motion, energy and vitality means interactions with other humans end too soon in crushing aches and pains. This leads one to isolation, and inevitably, depression. And today is thick with that unbearable sense of the senselessness of illness: what is this life? How is this living?
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"
I think later today, I shall write to my teacher, and ask her: is this the true posture? And then I think, laughing at myself, does it matter? Look, it is snowing again-- and look at the brilliance on this bright screen, connecting me as it is, quietly to the outside world. (And like that sweet fish, it'll take me in whichever direction I like, so long as I bump my nose against it, and keep swimming.) The pain in my fingertips is as inevitable as the song in my son's laughter. So long as I keep an open palm, the beauty of it all fits in the just-right puzzle of the world. So long as I keep an open palm.