Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to see, to find, and not to yield.
This week, maybe just for a week, the dogwoods are blooming. Spring comes in waves around here. First it’s the star magnolia, showers of white petals beginning to peep in early February, then the camellias. Then the tulip trees blossom in March, and the Japanese maples and the birches begin to leaf out. Now it’s April, and the street is awash with white and pink dogwoods. The roses are just about to burst open, as is the jasmine.
Thomas Wolfe warned in the title of America’s great novel that ‘You Can’t Go Home Again.’ I enjoyed the book but I never agreed with the title. I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.
Home is that youthful region where a child is the only real living inhabitant. Parents, siblings, and neighbors, are mysterious apparitions, who come, go, and do strange unfathomable things in and around the child, the region’s only enfranchised citizen.
I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.
We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.
~Maya Angelou from Letters to My Daughter
The greatest satisfaction you can obtain from life is your pleasure in producing, in your own individual way, something of value to your fellowmen. That is creative living!
When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and the planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women, capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women, capable of self-expression, slowly dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?
For you, life can be a succession of glorious adventures. Or it can be a monotonous bore.
Take your choice!
From a Fresco of the Annunciation by Jacopo da Pontormo (May 24, 1494 – January 2, 1557)
From “Annunciation”, a fresco by Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo da Pontormo. I just stumbled upon this in a 1968 issue of New York Magazine. Gorgeous colors, though I doubt that they are rendering truthfully from the original.