Friday, October 14, 2011
Swimming in the Sea of Dreams
The wind is roughing things up a bit out there today. A panel on the tin roof of the garden shed has come loose and is moving back and forth in the wind. It rolls back, then comes crashing down on the rafters. It does this over and over like ocean waves breaking on the shore. I've made a note and tomorrow, when the wind has died down, I'll walk back there and find a way to nail it down again. There are a few odd jobs left before we move down the road toward winter.
Yesterday afternoon, I revisited a poetry site that Michael at RV0777.blogspot.com had mentioned to me. It includes many of my favorite poets: Mary Oliver, of course, David Whyte, Naomi Shihab Nye, Rilke and Rumi, along with many others. It also includes this woman, Wislawa Szymborska. I read through several of her poems and felt very drawn to her voice, what she had to say and how she said it, but this one stood out. It continues to grow on me, and has given me much to think about while I go about my day. I've asked myself a few questions in response to it. But first, the poem:
Island where all becomes clear.
Solid ground beneath your feet.
The only roads are those that offer access.
Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.
The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches entangled since time immemorial.
The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.
The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.
If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.
Echos stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.
On the right a cave where Meaning lies.
On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.
Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.
For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.
As if all you can do is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.
Into unfathomable life.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
(translation by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)
The questions I posed to myself ran along these lines. I call them, 'What If.'
What if the sea into which we all seem to have plunged is really the Sea of Dreams? What if we've never really left that island, that island where all becomes clear? What if we're still standing on solid ground and have access to all roads? What if we're only dreaming in the Sea of Dreams and every day we can choose instead to live with the weight of proofs, eat from the Tree of Understanding (remember, it's straight and simple), as we sit beside the spring of Now I Get It?
What if the wind does, if we let it, dispel all doubts instantly? What if all the secrets of the world are explained in an echo, the echo we hear while swimming in the Sea of Dreams? What if we can choose to rest in the cave where Meaning lies and bathe in the Lake of Deep Conviction, swimming through Truth? What if we really live in the foothills of Unshakable Confidence, sheltered by its strength, as we walk through the Valley of Obviously, among the Essence of Things?
What if the island is not uninhabited, but the "faint footprints scattered on its beaches" are really the suggestion of myriad ideas who still roam freely on this island? What if only in dreaming do we believe we've plunged into the depths of unfathomable life? What if all we have to do is wake up and realize we've never really left this island, that we can simply stand up on solid ground, still there beneath our feet? Look down. See those faint footprints in the sand? What if they're yours?
Painting by Winslow Homer