Friday, June 11, 2010

The Place Who We Are

Is home a place?  Places change.  We change.  What is it about particular places, though, that inhabit us (not, as is usually the case, we them)?  Last autumn I revisited a town in which I'd lived for 13 years and barely recognized it.  The memory of it, over the years, was far stronger, and much more real.  I no longer feel "at home" there, though in some sense I never left. 

Ruminating this morning on the idea of satisfaction with the whatness of now, of acceptance, of the embracing of where you are and what your life has become (in light of a friend's complaint that five-plus years and still stuck in the "same 'ol, same 'ol").  And then I came across this little poem:

New day. Same sun.
What you get is

what you've got, and
it is enough.

[Posted three days ago, at 4:37 A.M., by Tom Montag over at The Middlewesterner]

For those readers not familiar with poet Tom Montag, he's from the midwest and a number of years ago he became an intentional vagabond, driving from town to town, trying to grasp what exactly makes people "middle western".  But this poet's attempt to understand "who we are and of what are we made", I think,  transcends geographical boundaries:

~ ~ I saw the shadow of crow fly into me.

~ ~ Why am I so moved by this landscape, these scenes, that old farmhouse with windows boarded up? What previous life did I live that I have this intense connection? All the old cottonwoods talked to me like friends. Was I a cottonwood once?

~ ~ Why have I had to come so far to be home? All day the land spoke to me as I drove, this land of which I'd write. Every grove of trees wanted to whisper its story, every old house invited me inside to meet its ghosts.

~ ~  The symbols of ourselves rise above the line of earth - the windbreak, the water tower, the elevator, the church steeple. We are mere mortals yet we would be little gods of the earth, each with his own habitation, his own local place. We set our markers on the earth as if they would be shrines, places to pray for rain, to give thanks for good harvest. Places of refuge. Markers that say: "Mine." Yet as earth-bound as these symbols are, how they reach for the sky! How they fashion the light that swaddles them.

[From Vagabond in the Middle", #5 and #6]

 Long after the original journey has ended, Tom Montag continues to look, to listen, and to wait with patience, reporting, on his blog, on what he finds as true.

I want to share his poem with my friend:  "New day/same sun"  (in reverse:  same 'ol, same 'ol, but it's a new day!), and "what you get/is what you've got."  It is "enough."

And if it's not--then a different journey must begin.  Within or without, we all arrive there eventually--though, absurdly, may not yet realize we're already there.

Thanks for the insightful little poem, Tom.

*photo by awyn, "on the road" last weekend.

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