The Wish to Be Generous
by Wendell Berry
All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man’s evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.
This morning I re-read an article that first found me six years ago, from the Sun. Do you know the Sun magazine? It is pure delight: excellent words, excellent images, beautiful soul. Six years ago, when I lived in a little house perched on a rock in Gloucester, MA, and was a young wife, depressed and unsure of myself, I read this incredible article, an interview with the poet Robert Bly, and it just about knocked my socks off. After all these years, the only thing I could remember was the line, "It is all right if the boat I love never reaches shore."
The line haunts me to this day. I am so invested in getting to another place. What if I never "arrive," never reach shore? What if I never become the person I imagine I might be? Would I have no value? Would I be unlovable? What does it mean to love myself now, stuck in the mire of all sorts of imperfections?
In moments of clarity, I can take joy in the knowledge that I am going to die, and that I will never "arrive" at my "perfect" fantasy-self before I do. If I know this as a fact, than I don't need to be weighed down by a fear of death. I can enjoy the journey that I am on, and the view from the boat of the wide-open sea.
Read the article, if you have a few minutes. Near the end is a excerpt from one of Bly's poems that I love:
The hermit said: “Because the world is mad,
the only way through the world is to learn
the arts and double the madness.” Are you