Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.
One of the hardest concepts to grasp, I think, is that there is a time for everything under the sun. But, are we supposed to enjoy tragedy? Are we supposed to accept injustice?
Seasons at least come and go. Some bad times are more protracted and we are trapped in waiting. Some people are born into bad circumstances, or find themselves there with little possibility of exiting.
I really loathe the expression “glass half full”. I think it often means “I’m alright Jack”, and when it does, it is aggressive. It is denying someone the legitmacy of their own experience.
That said, when it is our turn to be caught in bad situations, do we really want to wallow?
Understand the whirlwind
I’ve seen a lot of writing, here and there, that we are abandoning, at last, a Cartesian view of life – a dualism where we separate mind and body. In bad circumstances, though, I think we need dualism. We need to see reality for what it is. We need to say, this is reality as it is unfolding. It is important to acknowledge reality in all it awfulness, to call it by what it is, and describe it, without any pretence to do otherwise, in its own terms.
It is also important to say that it frightens us, gives us anxiety attacks, humiliates us, and clouds our judgement.
What we must NOT do, is confuse it with ourselves. We are not our reality. We simply exist within the reality.
Poetry to mark our times
Obama has commissioned poet, Elizabeth Alexander, to write a poem for the inauguration, and through the press coverage, introduced us to another American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks. Her advice for people living in very difficult circumstances says it all.
“Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.”
I couldn’t see any copyright information on this page, so I have copied the poem below. If I am in breach, please do tell me and I will respond immediately. Thanks to George Hartley of Ohio University, more of Gwendolyn Brooks poems can be found on the same page. Her is the full poem.
The Second Sermon on the Warpland
For Walter Bradford
This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.
Salve salvage in the spin.
Endorse the splendor splashes;
stylize the flawed utility;
prop a malign or failing light–
but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.
Not the easy man, who rides above them all,
not the jumbo brigand,
not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,
shall straddle the whirlwind.
All about are the cold places,
all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–
all about are the stormers and scramblers but
what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?
Live and go out.
medicate the whirlwind.
cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face
all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.
Whose half-black hands assemble oranges
is tom-tom hearted
(goes in bearing oranges and boom).
And there are bells for orphans–
and red and shriek and sheen.
A garbageman is dignified
as any diplomat.
Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,
but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands
in the wild weed.
In the wild weed
she is a citizen,
and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.
It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.
Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the