30 June 2013
I took a walk down the shore of Galway yesterday morning before I took the bus back to Dublin. It was the most peaceful moment of my entire trip, and it allowed me some headspace to actually think about the experience I was having.
In 2010, when I saw my cousin for the first time since he came back from his trip around the world, I asked him, What did you find essential to have while you were gone? What did you bring that you didn’t need? What did you fail to bring that you wished you had? I made lists, even though he told me that each situation was personal. I was impressed that he had survived for a year with little more than what he actually needed.
It reminded me of Cheryl Strayed ripping off sections of each book she read while she was on the Pacific Crest Trail. It made me think: I should assess these things while I am in the experience. And so, last night, I thought: What did I find essential to have? What did I bring that I didn’t need? What did I fail to bring that I wished I had?
I carried a pair of boots for most of the weekend because they are not good in rain, are not good to wear when walking long distances, and quite bulky to try to pack into my backpack. Why did I bring them? To wear on Friday night at the poetry reading. Instead, I could have brought and worn my black sneakers: one pair of shoes, multi-purpose, comfortable, fine in rain, lightweight, and would have been fine for the poetry reading, since most people there were in jeans and comfortable clothes anyway. A lesson for me: it doesn’t matter if people poke fun at how much I wear sneakers instead of heels, flats, boots, or more “girly” shoes — what matters is that my feet are comfortable, and I can walk and walk and walk for miles.
I wish I had brought Andrew. It was quite lonely for much of the trip, and I missed being away from him, even for just three days. But I did recognize more of my own signals: hunger, fear, nervousness, anxiety, satisfaction, tiredness, longing, curiosity, adventure. I made more snap decisions: Yes, this way. I will eat now. A walk would be good. I don’t think I want to be here anymore. I’ll leave now. It’s harder to do this with another person, except that maybe in learning to recognize these signals for myself, I would be better able to communicate my needs or questions to others. Communication, I’ve found, is a golden compass that always seems to lead through the path of least resistance. Ease. Familiarity. When communication is clear and true, it can navigate anything. Communication with self is the most important foundation to facilitate that with others. Or, so I’m finding.
The slate black sky. The middle step
of the back porch. And long ago
my mother’s necklace, the beads
rolling north and south. Broken
the rose stem, water into drops, glass
knobs on the bedroom door. Last summer’s
pot of parsley and mint, white roots
shooting like streamers through the cracks.
Years ago the cat’s tail, the bird bath,
the car hood’s rusted latch. Broken
little finger on my right hand at birth—
I was pulled out too fast. What hasn’t
been rent, divided, split? Broken
the days into nights, the night sky
into stars, the stars into patterns
I make up as I trace them
with a broken-off blade
of grass. Possible, unthinkable,
the cricket’s tiny back as I lie
on the lawn in the dark, my heart
a blue cup fallen from someone’s hands.
I love this poem, but I want to read (write?) one about what’s found. Maybe that can be our writing challenge for the week?
A treat: SMess sent me a great list of lists today.
I’m on mornings tomorrow, yes? Better go to sleep, then!