age, books, bookshops, cemeteries, change, death, Emily Dickinson, encouragement, friends, funny, hope, inspiration, life, loves, nature, nostalgia, ocean, Pablo Neruda, perspective, poetry, reading, time, writing
Today is my 31st birthday and it marks a period of a lot of change in my life and in the lives of those around me. I know life is all full of change, but it’s been hitting me in marked lumps of late. This is something I’ve already discussed in previous posts, to an extent, and of course something I’ve talked over with close friends extensively. I’ve been thinking a bit morbidly lately, thinking that my life is speeding by with little to give evidence of. But that’s fallacious thinking. There’s no sense in defeatist thinking. I’m quite young yet and there are plenty of blank pages left to my life.
This weekend, I am at the coast, spending hours staring out at the ocean and allowing the view to feed into my soul and collect in the little happiness reservoir I will need to pull from in the times to come. I love the ocean. I love listening to the waves crash and purr. I love the cloudy weather and the mist and spray. I love the colors and the cold. The sea is so full of mystery and beauty and I adore it. I especially love the cold north coast.
I read today about a steamer called the Brother Jonathan that sunk off the coast of Crescent City in 1865. I read the ship’s list of passengers and crew members on a plaque in it’s memorial cemetery. It listed those whose bodies were recovered, those who perished, and those who happened to survive. So sad to read about the children who were lost and so strange to read about certain bodies being recovered “7 miles out to sea” or miles away in Eureka or Oregon.
I read the inscriptions on the marble memorial headstones, as well. Some of them were very beautiful and sad. Many had poetry inscribed.I like melancholy things like this. It makes me feel the depth of mystery in life and death.
One thing I saw made me giggle, though. In the list of ship’s passengers who perished was this gem of a statement:I just had to snicker a little to myself at the colorful terminology of society and the English language. 😉
I’ve been thinking about poetry a lot lately, too. I investigated the one, lone bookstore in Crescent City- The Bookcomber- and found an older copy of The Norton Introduction to Literature for $2.99. I also got a couple of paperback novels- The Used World by Haven Kimmel and Mangoes and Quince by Carol Field. Exciting. But back to the poetry topic…
I have adored poetry for a very long time. Full of peace and quiet insight, it speaks right into the human soul, refreshing, comforting, enlightening, and enriching. There’s nothing like it’s beauty.
Yesterday I read this quote from Pablo Neruda: “Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.” Beautiful.
Quiet and solitude, time to think, time to contemplate, these are all important to me. I’ve been trying to steal away moments to myself to process, to rest, to learn, and to grow. Friendships and stimulation are also important. I used to have intense periods of inspiration when all I wanted in life was a reliable pen and an unlimited amount of paper. Lately, inspiration has been harder to find, or harder to process. I’ve lived a lot more since those simple times- I’ve experienced more of life’s difficulties and realities, but I have to work hard not to be jaded by it. I wanted life experience in order to have something more REAL to write about than my juvenile naiveté and my resulting dreaminess. But now I have to struggle to keep hope and heart alive.
I hope that with age, I am only getting better. I have to keep telling myself not to lose heart. I need to keep the vision of who I want to be before me, so that I never lose sight of the possibilities that life and living offer. I want to be as Emily Dickinson said she was when she said, “I dwell in possibility.” I never want to abandon that optimism.
It’s been good to be away from my home these last few days. In some ways it’s been a period of forced rest. There’s only so much I can do here, so I have to slow down my pace and my concerned anxiety of what life ahead of me will hold. Instead, I sit. I look at the ocean waves perpetually crashing against the shore or the rocks, or splashing over submerged rocks and I breathe. I write. I read. I slow down and tell myself that today doesn’t have to have a goal. Today can just be today. And today is my birthday. That alone can mark it as special. I will only turn 31 this once.