Where You Stand

And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
small panacea
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.

—John Ashbery

 

In 1988, John Ashbery wrote this poem for the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, connecting Loring Park with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

In 1988, John Ashbery wrote this poem for the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, connecting Loring Park with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

Find Solace in the Season

If we contemplate the beauty of every passing season - the stir of summer as well as the stillness of winter - we will develop a therapeutic relationship with our surroundings. As Rachel Carson suggests in Silent Spring, "There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."

Burden and Lightness

The heaviest of burdens is simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute essence of burden causes us to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and our earthly beings, and become only half real, our movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness? 

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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