Poem for Today
The Happiness Debate (NY Times)
|A potent coffee roast and sunrise over the swimming pool.A sudden gripping fear: my life is fluff.
Venezuela they’re stripping protesters nude as a means of stripping their dignity
Says one: our dignity is beneath our skin
Witness: a photoshopped image of a young man bruised and beaten
pulling back his pectoral skin to reveal
the tricolor and estrellas of the Venezuelan flag.
Me I make a living installing rich people’s software:
Systems for startups
Tools to manage the capture of the young leisure class throughout the world –
a different sort of capture, though: data capture: young daredevils with time and money recording all the frivolities and athletic achievement that good fortune can by –
Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum:
Oh! but there goes the pretty boy with suburban tresses and expensive bike gear careening down a cliffside in Bolivia
Ignorant of or inured to the strife in the streets below his ride
He may see it;
But this too shall pass.
— the one with golf courses and swimming pools and Canadians fleeing winter —
I can barely keep my head aloft on the morning patio
Can’t focus or pay attention
Due to the weight
There was a time when
(Ginsberg x Thomas)
But that was back in a different world:
Back before we learned to slum in fine hotels of which we were not guests;
Back when words had constancy or at least a bit of meaning;
Back before we learned to read with pictures;
Back before life itself was some sort of ephemera that required mechanical intervention to experience it;
Back before there were swimming pools.
* * *
|What Suffering Does
David Brooks, NY Times 4/7/2014The theologian Paul Tillich wrote that people who endure suffering are taken beneath the routines of life and find they are not who they believed themselves to be. The agony involved in, say, composing a great piece of music or the grief of having lost a loved one smashes through what they thought was the bottom floor of their personality, revealing an area below, and then it smashes through that floor revealing another area.Then, suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations, what they can control and cannot control.When people are thrust down into these deeper zones, they are forced to confront the fact they can’t determine what goes on there. Try as they might, they just can’t tell themselves to stop feeling pain, or to stop missing the one who has died or gone. And even when tranquillity begins to come back, or in those moments when grief eases, it is not clear where the relief comes from.The healing process, too, feels as though it’s part of some natural or divine process beyond individual control.
People in this circumstance often have the sense that they are swept up in some larger providence. Abraham Lincoln suffered through the pain of conducting a civil war, and he came out of that with the Second Inaugural. He emerged with this sense that there were deep currents of agony and redemption sweeping not just through him but through the nation as a whole, and that he was just an instrument for transcendent tasks.
It’s at this point that people in the midst of difficulty begin to feel a call. They are not masters of the situation, but neither are they helpless. They can’t determine the course of their pain, but they can participate in responding to it. They often feel an overwhelming moral responsibility to respond well to it.