Some years ago my brother struck up a conversation with famed Kentucky poet, novelist, and environmentalist Wendell Berry. He’d traveled five hours to hear him speak at a conference, and in the way of anyone raised Southern they started telling stories. One thing led to another until my pediatrician/beekeeper sibling promised to send Wendell a sampling of his honey. Wendell liked it, and each time Steve sent honey he responded with a gracious hand-written note. Which is all a lead up to say that Berry’s poem “What We Need Is Here” is on my mind.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith; what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
–Wendell Berry from The Country of Marriage
Monarch butterflies, Canadian geese, people, and tribes migrate. IT folks and project managers migrate platforms and systems and devices. What about you? How do you migrate?
Kicking and Screaming
I do this. Sometimes I resist change. Things might not be perfect where I am, but at least I know what to expect. A friend in Connecticut used to say “I might be in hell, but at least I know where all the rooms are.”
Pretending and Avoiding
My family, historically, does denial well. Stay busy, don’t talk about it, hey, what did you think of that game last night? Big secrets are held back and released with the sage advice, “Just do the best you can.” We pretend, but most people would understand if we said more.
Get on Board
Albert Einstein once said life is like riding a bicycle—to keep your balance, you must keep moving. This is me on my first big bike ride last summer after I had vertigo. It was scary to be on two thin wheels, but I did it and found I could move forward.
Perhaps there’s a graduation or new job ahead. Life changes bring marriage, birth, illness or surgery. Sometimes the most difficult migration is inner—releasing a grudge, letting go of habits or thoughts that don’t serve you well, staring down a fear, adjusting to a reality, embracing an exciting new possibility. You probably face at least one such thing. I hope you’ll get on board.
Wendell says the geese abandon themselves to migration. They hold to the ancient faith, clear in their way. Will I? Will you?
Spring is a time of new growth and renewal. Wherever you’re going, inwardly and outwardly, I wish you a quiet heart and a clear eye, and the confidence that what you need is here. I think that is true as long as you move in harmony with who you really are, and what you were created to be. Move in the direction of the real you.
Next week I’ll post a video reading from Anna Quindlen’s novel Still Life With Bread Crumbs. It’s the story of a successful artist who faces her fading career and crumbling finances with a bold move that takes her far from who she used to be. To make this video I got to buy a toy I’d been wanting for quite some time. I had fun! I hope you will too.
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