Prompt #14:

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

(Prompt Author: Jonathan Fields)

Response:

To respond to this, I am going to republish a poem I wrote In February 2008, when Katie was just a few months old and sleeping bedside in her bassinet.

I feel this poem captures exactly what I think and feel about our life pathways. Both the beautiful and the sad happen in order to bring us right to this moment, right to the joy of the unknown becoming known. I try not to second guess my journey. All that I have right now in the love of my husband and children is reason enough for everything that came before. While I set goals for myself, I also know that my FIRST priority in my life is my family and making memories with those I love. I followed blind ambition a little more in high school than I follow it now, often choosing my schoolwork over time with family and friends. While I do believe academics to be an appropriate top priority, I still could have balanced it a bit more and made some more memories in the course of it all. I know now that no goal, to me, is more important to my sense of self-worth and ambition than creating magic with the people I love still left here on earth. I also know that everything in my life has brought me right to this moment now, and I am thankful, thankful, thankful.

My poem, February 16, 2008:

At Midnight

Midnight, again –

I tiptoe in

Between his heavy deep sleep-sighs

And your baby soft puffs.

We are three in a row

As I nestle under duvet and nightlight.

My body curls toward yours;

My mind continues its sprawl…

 

(My fingers find your tiny hand, palm up)

 

…hastening around turns and bends to that otherwhere;

 

Tears for all of an April;

A Jamaican waterfall;

Long hippie skirts and a barefoot rain dance;

Fortresses made of old wood and rope among eucalyptus;

Jasmine blossom lingering in the 3 AM air;

Twirls until the carpet circled and circled;

A stroll in Venice — “Bella! Bella!”;

One night of tango on a classroom table;

An ultimatum;

The anticlimax of the Haight: The Gap?;

Drawings of dinosaurs, then drawings of clothes, and those on the bedroom wall;

My organic garden;

Crushes in journals;

A letter to my dad;

The wall of every school award;

Walks at sunset, searching roads;

Wilting utopias in college co-ops;

Henry, Ayn, Ernest;

Holden; Gatsby; Jane;

Kites and bubbles;

A little farm in Lancaster;

So many wakeful nights;

Boxes in my closet;

Friends lost and gained;

Dried flowers;

Goodbyes, pet chickens, waltzes, strawberries on the porch, the moon, a writer’s bump—

 

All I was and could have been—

 

Resolved, absolved at your small hand,

For who I am and will be

Lives just at the very corners of your mouth,

Which, upturned in the morning light,

Is reason enough for it all.

SLM

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