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Life While-You-Wait

Friday, October 12, 2012

This wonderful morning offering from Wislawa Szymborska, a favorite poem from a favorite poet, speaks so deeply to me that I felt compelled to bring it forward for friends here to consider and possibly revel in, as I have. Although I know nothing of her religious propensities, I have no doubt that Szymborska was a deeply spiritual being. She speaks with deep awareness of the uncharted and often seemingly perilous journey we call "life."

My life is not without its pleasures, and I have had no traumas of immense proportions, other than the loss, as a young adult of my parents, and of my only sibling, my beloved younger brother 10 years ago. But the daily grind (and I'm NOT talking about my morning java ritual LOL) holds few thrills and my efforts at becoming more conscious mentally and spiritually in this crazy world are inconsistent at best. This causes inner turmoil and outer angst.

The weighty issue of my body is getting old (pun intended) and my seeming inability to move out of the never-never Plateau Land is beginning to unnerve me. The semester presses on, with papers, exams, and presentations becoming more frequent and intense and the preparations for an approximate three-month sojourn in my home-away-from-home in South America are upon me. In the midst of all this, feelings of aloneness sometimes crowd in. And then there are the tears and concern about beloveds around me who have problems much more profound than mine, not to mention the suffering all over the world, which truly weighs this Piscean down (see the end of blog for an example).

If the venerable Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh -- who has been through horrors I cannot even imagine -- can say, "The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms," I too can practice peace in the midst of the upheaval, the anxieties, the self-doubt and self-reprisals.

...all this welled up from diving into....


Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine. I can't exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run ?
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).

You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there's no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done.

~ Wislawa Szymborska ~
(Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, trans. S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)
As always, thanks to Joe Riley, purveyor of fine poetry:

For those who would like to know more about the extraordinary Szymborska, here are two blogs I posted on her :



Here are two tip-of-the-iceberg examples of the source in my sadness in this life:


And THIS is my work and my joy:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    A friend of mine has 3 months to live...pancreatic cancer. A member of our bike club died today when struck by a car. Our country continues to be involved in far too many lives lost around the world. Some days it is a challenge to put one foot ahead of the other...and it HAS been feeling a bit too much like life while waiting these days...!

    2051 days ago
  • DAISY443
    Hmmmmmm..........Food for thought! Thanks for challenging me to improvise!
    2052 days ago
    Thanks for summing up how many of us feel. I trail in time behind your wisdom (LOL) but understand your feelings.
    I love doing what I do with the life around me. While I wax to melencholy at times I also find peace in my knowledge that;

    " I know nothing of the role I play.
    I only know it's mine. I can't exchange it. "
    2052 days ago
  • BECCA324
    That is a beautiful poem and thank you for sharing it with us. Being a fellow piscean, I too take on other peoples problems and concerns, to the point of weighing me down sometimes. I think that is just how we are, we are caring souls who just want to help people.
    2052 days ago
    Lovely poem. A lot to think about.
    2052 days ago
    Thank you! Love the poem: there really are no dress rehearsals, darn it, and no "do overs" either . . .

    When most overwhelmed/discouraged I remind myself . . . that I can try to be kind. And to accept the kindness of others all around me. And to notice how persistently and surprisingly beautiful the world is.
    2052 days ago
  • SCOOTER4263
    The poem is beautiful and inspirational, Maha. Thank you for this gift. The video...sad, but at the same time full of hope. Watching something like that makes me ashamed of so many of the things that bring me pain - we have so much - but yet I suppose we all have our individual "plays", completely unscripted, in which to perform.
    2052 days ago
    The melancholia stirs my soul. This poem speaks my words. I've been musing over this place of soul, this state of being, this discoverng of self anew each moment, not knowing exactly what will appear and attempting to understand whatever arises. I feel the pull of the season in this blog, the pull to go inside. To search in the depths and breadths of our inner halls, leaving no stone unturned, the big, the bold, the beautiful, and the sorrowful, all amassed in the inner temple. Yes, I feel this pull both in my life and in this blog. I appreciate your honoring of this time of the year of introspection, this time of deep contemplation of self, of life, of suffering and ultimately of the perilous, awe inspriring, never boring, always curious walk we are all on called life. Life is a beautiful gift............a complicated, overwhelming, odd, embracing, puzzling, wild and wonderful gift. So glad you choose to share a bit of what your gift has given you...........I can attest to the fact that the gift of your life helps me to awaken to the gift of my own. Thank you for you sincere respect for this dance of life we all share. I appreciate your attention to the finer aspects of our spiritual, true nature. You inspire me to turn inside, unafraid, overturn the stones and uncover what it is I am, authentically, yearningly, optimitstically, and realistically. Disovering self, it seems to be the eternal journey we were created to embark on. Thanks for everything, it truly helps me accept myself, when I see others working to accept themselves.
    2052 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/12/2012 2:17:15 PM
    Thank you for being you. You'll find your comfort zone again. In the mean time, just keep growing. :)
    2053 days ago
    Very beautiful Maha! emoticon emoticon
    2053 days ago
    2053 days ago
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