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Beautiful Words Create Music in the Mind
"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are dining on crumbs." -- Auntie Mame
Oh, isn’t being alive just grand? It isn’t easy to forget about my bad back, arthritic knees, sundry other ailments and the doubts and worries that are part and parcel of the human condition. However, I do try to celebrate each day the wonder of just being alive and to savor the bounteous beauty that is here for my enjoyment.
Oh dear, doesn’t my catalogue of woes makes me sound old? Inside, you know, I’m still a young, vigorous woman capable of moving heavy furniture or hiking a Teton mountain path with a pack on my back. My body may be decrepit, but my brain isn’t. Learning to cope with this disparity between what my mind conceives that I can do and the reality that my body imposes is a major frustration. Vivian Forst understands what I mean. Last week some of the Nifty Nicitinos and I visited ninety-six-year-old Vivian who’s still as bright as a new penny. She told me, "I wake up in the morning and lie in bed, thinking about everything that I’ll do today--and then I get up and can’t do much of it."
Oh my goodness! The sky was full of angry-looking black clouds when I started this. Now the rising sun is painting them a vivid orange against a backdrop of ice blue. I must put on a coat and shoes and rush outside to watch as there will never ever be another sunrise in all of eternity exactly like this one.
Beauty comes in many forms. Jessie Nay Wagoner developed her pupils’ spirits and imaginations as well as teaching them the basics. She asked her first- graders to describe the most beautiful thing that they’d ever seen. Most responded predictably about flowers and such. Her favorite answer was that of an awkward, shy boy who chuffed rapidly as if it were all one word, "Threefatspottedpups!".
Beautiful words are one of my passions. They make a sort of music in my mind. I rarely read poetry, but when I have occasion to, it sets lovely images before my internal vision. One of my very favorite poems is "Ithaca" by Constantine Cavafy, a modern Greek poet who reached back into the ancient past of Greek myth.
His "Ithaca" is written as if he’s speaking to Ulysses who wandered so far and encountered many dangers during his long struggle to return to his home island. The poem is a metaphor for our journey through life and contains messages that we would do well to heed. Here are some of his lovely words.
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge . . .
Pray that the road is long,
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, and ebony . . .
For nearly forty-five years, in every season, Bill and I have shared many a lovely morning and traveled many a road together from the high paths of the western mountains to the Adirondacks forests to the Atlantic and Pacific shores, to wild Dartmoor, to the boulevards of Paris, and to the splendor of Venice. Some roads we traveled alone; others we shared with beloved friends and family.
Time seemed to stand still during our recent trip to Italy. Watching Vicki experience places for the first time rekindled our own pleasure in them and made us feel blessed that we were able to share her new experience, joy and knowledge.
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