Getting what you want

A tweet I saw today made me aware of this poem, written when the author was dying of cancer:

Late Fragment

By Raymond Carver

And did you get what

you wanted from life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the Earth.

Simple. Direct. Poignant.

Isn’t this what we really want?

To love and to be loved.

All the rest is distraction.

I want to be a better friend to my dog

I heard this Billy Collins poem about dogs today while listening to the TED Radio Hour*:

I laughed, but now I want to be a better friend to my dog, Mosley.

*The TED Radio Hour is such a stellar podcast. If you haven’t discovered podcasts yet, this is a great one to subscribe to to get started. Every episode is solid.

The Revenant
by Billy Collins

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you – not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and – greatest of insults – shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner –
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

Dropping keys

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.58.52 PM

Catch yourself locking others up in your expectations, your dogma. And stop it.

Break out of the constraints others place on you. Be authentic. Be real. Be your rowdy, unfiltered self, regardless of what others want you to be and regardless of how imperfect you will be exposed to be.

Your freedom just might liberate someone else. Your vulnerability just might embolden those around you who are only going through the motions, who feel trapped in cages built by someone else.

The wise man accepts the beautiful messiness of life and does not try to fix others. He just wants them to be free.

Stop building cages. Start a jail break.

Mother’s Day gift: Sarah Kay’s poem

Need something thoughtful for a mother in your life for Mother’s Day this weekend? My daughters and I gave this lovely little book of Sarah Kay’s poem B to my wife a couple of years ago.

It’s the poem Sarah performed on the TED stage to much acclaim. I loved her dynamic presence on stage as much as her message.

Mothers and daughters will especially appreciate the message of this poem, but fathers and sons and any human would, too.


Love and gravity

Gravity rules the universe. There would be no Earth, no solar system, no sun or stars or galaxies without gravity.

Gravity is attraction. The earth is pulling on the moon, keeping it close. The sun keeps tugging at the planets. Galaxies spin in infinity in its grasp. Gravity holds everything together.

Newton enlightened. Einstein clarified and corrected. And smiled.

What gravity is to the cosmos is what love is to the human experience. Love brings people together, puts hearts in orbit around each other. Connects and binds. Builds community and family.

It can be defied, with great effort if not with Saturn V rockets. It gives order and chaos at the same time.

We all are connected, biologically and cosmically. We are star stuff, held together and propelled onward by love and gravity.

Mary Oliver: West Wind #2

This is so good:


By Mary Oliver

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it.