Why do I keep trying to understand
the list of many things that I do
not? I carry around a fifty-
one-year-old weathered scroll
inked with a variety of unknowns.
Some, once understood—now
not. Many new, others ever-
changing. The list
grows. If “life is what happens when you are making
other plans,” why plan?
Why do traits that attract
turn into reasons to leave?
Is life alone settling,
fate, or just giving up
on the game? Why use the word
forever when nothing is?
How can a lifestyle choice threaten
others? How is walking in rain
therapy to some, yet loathed by many?
How do crows know I am
a friend, though I wasn’t always?
How does a special animal change
a person’s life? What do you do
when they go? Why do tough
people sometimes betray the code
and cry? Why do some become monsters
instead of protecting
their children? Can the kindness
of an outsider make enough
difference? Why does the pain remain
when the damage is long
gone? How do butterflies
know to show up when you need
them? If writing can be an antidote
for depression, can it lead
to understanding? Is philosophy
a gift, or an over-thought
burden? Destiny, obligation
calling (words that are larger
than life) can you really
see them coming?
Herman Hesse wrote:
I have been and still am a seeker,
but I have ceased to question
stars and books; I have begun
to listen to the teaching my blood
whispers to me.
Was there an event that opened
his eyes to this
realization or is it the wisdom
of a tired traveler?
When is it okay to let go
of questions and simply embrace?
The surprises never
end. Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean
back: let the bad be curses
and the good, magic.
This poem started with my piece Why from the “Write to Understand” writing workshop taught by friend Matt Love on December 10th 2016 in Astoria, Oregon and evolved over time thanks to the help from another writer friend of mine Tara Hardy .
Why do I keep trying to understand the list of many things that I do not. I carry around a fifty-one year old scroll of weathered paper inked with a variety of unknowns. Some once understood – now not. Many new, others ever-changing. The list grows…
If “Life is what happens when you are making other plans” – why plan
Why do traits that attract – become reasons to leave
How is walking in rain therapy to some – yet loathed by many
How does a special animal change a person’s life – what do you do when they go
Why does pain remain when the damage is long gone
How do butterflies know to show up when you need them
If writing can be an antidote for Depression – can it help with Understanding
Destiny, Obligation, Calling (words that are larger than life) – can you really see them coming
Herman Hesse wrote, “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”
Was there an event that opened his eyes to this realization or is it the wisdom of a tired traveler? When is it okay to let go of questions and simply embrace?
The surprises never end. Perhaps it’d be healthier to lean back: let the bad be curses and the good magic.
As always I learned while enjoying my day at the “Write to Understand” writing workshop on December 10th 2016.
Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.
Born December 8, 1965 in Jamestown, North Dakota the only child of Esther and Stan Goffe. Raised in Enumclaw, Washington by schoolteacher parents gave a solid start – blending mid-west values with small town growth.
Being a bit of a traveller and seeker it was often easier to question than accept.
Surviving a taste for adrenaline and gravitational pull from the wilder side, eventually settling down in the Seattle area.
Learning about the gifts of life from daughter Heather and her journey.
Sharing eclectic experiences with several great friends, many special acquaintances and a few wild characters.
Enjoying the path with a special dog proved to be life changing.
Life was rich.
I liked the idea of becoming a kind of Renaissance Man.
Hopefully I achieved this on some level, before I left.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anais Nin
I started writing about Life with my dog Sarrah a few months after she was gone.
It just happened, I never set out to write anything nor get this involved with it, but here I am. As if life cracked me open and the words just started coming out. I began writing daily for an hour or two, sometimes all day and even a few marathon weekends with little time for food or sleep, I did this for about a year.
I set my pen down the day that I learned people in the present run out of time for those who live in the past.
I went from keeping my binder with me at all times to leaving it on the coffee table.
Instead of writing daily, I maybe read it a little every other week and tweaked anything that I stumbled on. This went on for almost a year.
One day I decided to pick it back up and work through it. I made some “Draft Copies” and gave them to a few friends and family, noting that it was far from finished. I wanted to give it, to give Sarrah, some kind of life and protect the story from being lost.
Having never read Memoir I began attending writing conferences, seminars and classes a year ago. Learning to take my story apart, reworking it for Show not Tell is easier said than done, seems especially for me.
I understand that in the paper-thin chance this story of a Special Dog and an Old Boy ever becomes more than evolving pages in a weathered binder on my coffee table (and a bit on a blog) it will be run through normalizing software to Scrub out my Bad Habits, over-polish punctuation and trim off the rough edges… somehow making it no longer feel like it’s mine.
Perhaps what I’m writing is simply a record to be read aloud to an older version of me, staring out a window, trying to remember a life.