Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ready to Live

Lately I've been reading Patti Smith's award-winning memoir, Just Kids. I've read it in pieces, dipping in here and there before bed mostly. With this book, and her style of expression, I can do this and thoroughly enjoy the dips. I've always been drawn to Patti Smith's bits of poetry, some of the stark images of her I've seen over the years. I never went further than reading some of her poems, but my memory of certain images and words prompted me to immediately want to read Just Kids when I first read about it.

Today I read an essay she wrote for Details in July of 1991, We can be heroes. The sub-head read, "Patti Smith on the poets and pop stars who rescued her from teenage hell." She studied carefully selected images in her mirror, along with her own. It was 1962, a time, she says, when "roles were rigidly assigned." Joan of Arc definitely made the mirror crew, the "tomboy who talked to God." Studying her face, Patti read, "ready to die," and shook her head. "Ready to live," she whispered. "For I desired, as Youth does, to be taken by the hand and hurled into the world. But who would do the hurling. And what would I wear?"  I love this. She learned, and knew inside, grew into knowing, that ultimately we are not seeking others to worship but to Know ourselves. What Bob Dylan and others gave her (along with the ability to choose just the right dark glasses) was the ability to fend for herself.

"Mine the quirks," indeed. I can relate to what Patti Smith writes about mirrors, about wondering, about words, to some degree about music, to art, and to the raw wonder of sharing a life. Last night at our Spiritual Philosophy meeting we talked about this lesson of self-sufficiency as human beings. With the word "sustainability" almost everywhere these days, self-sufficiency has its own expanding rewards, benefits, joys, and challenges. Today, in Japan, the Earth heaved, and continues heaving, shifting, as rubble gives way to shaking and the force of water. People gather in the streets, seeking shelter as they can, and wondering how life is, will be, now. People are shaken to their roots, and we who are far away send love, help, however we can or will. Each thought adds to others.

Being born one of triplets has given me a distinct experience and exploration of what it means to be "individual" and "three-in-one," one of three. This morning, the first bright blue-sky day in a week or so, I walked to the flower bed by the road where we've planted bulbs. Some were dug up as soon as they were planted by eager squirrels or maybe rabbits. The ones that held on are coming up, with the good rain and Spring urges. Purple tops with yellow centers, bright orange leaves with elegant tips, each showing its colors in a row of others. Each one is beautiful, and all together their beauty is more evident, more beautiful. 

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