what I (try to) do

“. . .I keep my eyes fixed on the sun. . .”

(even on a cloudy day)


~Cage the Elephant, “Shake Me Down”



from “After Twelve Days of Rain”

“. . .And I saw it didn’t matter
who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.
The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty
of the Iranian attendant, the thickening
clouds–nothing was mine. And I understood
finally, after a semester of philosophy,
a thousand books of poetry, after death
and childbirth and the startled cries of men
who called out my name as they entered me,
I finally believed I was alone, felt it
in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo
like a thin bell. And the sounds
came back, the slish of tires
and footsteps, all the delicate cargo
they carried saying thank you
and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car
as if nothing had happened–
as if everything mattered–What else could I do?
. . .”

                                                         ~Dorianne Laux

What else indeed.

I turn 50 soon.
I find the differences between 25 and 50 to be these:

At 25 you believe you will spend your life collecting lovers and children and friends and, that you will never be alone. At 25 you believe, no, you know, that you will live forever.

At 50 you love all those lovers and children and friends, and realize that, even then, you are, were, and will always be, yourself, alone. At 50 you know that you will die, and you can only hope that, when you do, you are ready.

(Added a day later: Blah blah blah. I realize this sounds very dark and depressing, and that’s really not what it is meant to be at all. What I failed to convey is that there is still so much living left; so many things get better and better every day, and I just can’t bear the thought of it being over before I’m ready for it to be over. And really, what ultimately being alone means is that you are responsible for your own happiness. There are worse things.)