Monday, June 1, 2009

Live in the layers ...

I have found comfort and healing in words .... words I read, and words I write. Today, I found a poem that speaks to me and where I am at with my life's journey and current struggles. I find comfort in surrendering, and in the following words from Stanley Kunitz's poem, "live in the layers." The compactness of poems, the many possible interpretations, and images and layers present are what speak to me.

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
where I need to go
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

We cannot alter our past. We cannot alter our experiences. We cannot alter what life doles out to us. What we can alter, is how we choose to interpret our experiences. We can sweep the painful/challenging experiences under the rug, or we can embrace them choosing to believe there is some transformation in the works ... life is a journey and adventure of landings and take offs.


  1. I am glad to be walking with you on this journey, babo.

  2. I like this quote from Pema Chodron, and I think it relates to your post:

    "We never know for certain where present conditions will lead or what will happen next. There is, however, no need to be a prophet of doom or for us to go around living in constant dread. Our situation is definitely workable. By learning not to bite the hook now, with the little annoyances of an ordinary day, we'll be preparing ourselves to work with whatever lies ahead with compassion and wisdom."

    Poetry is so powerful and healing. Do you write poems as well as read them?