Royce Shook in Lifestyle, beBee in English, Healthy Living President • The Wilson Centre Seniors Advisory Association 5 d ago · 1 min read · +200

Learning to live.

 One of the best blogs I read is Brain Pickings by Maria Popova which is thought provoking and stimulating. The following is from her post on learning to live and learning to die.

Every act of living is an act of learning to die, of apprenticing ourselves to the loss of this moment. If we are thoughtful and tender with ourselves, the terror of the loss cusps into transcendence, the grief into gratitude, into a nonspecific gladness enveloping everything that ever was and ever will be, enveloping us in the sense of ourselves as nothing more than particles passing between not yet and no more, nothing less than particular, particulate miracles bewildered and bewildering in their passage.

That is what poet Ross Gay explores with his light and luminous touch in one of the highlights from the fourth annual Universe in Verse, the poem “Ode to Buttoning and Unbuttoning My Shirt”

by Ross Gay

No one knew or at least
I didn’t know
they knew
what the thin disks
threaded here
on my shirt
might give me
in terms of joy
this is not something to be taken lightly
the gift
of buttoning one’s shirt
top to bottom
or bottom
to top or sometimes
the buttons
will be on the other
side and
I am a woman
that morning
slipping the glass
through its slot
I tread
differently that day
or some of it
my conversations
are different
and the car bomb slicing the air
and the people in it
for a quarter mile
and the honeybee’s
legs furred with pollen
mean another
thing to me
than on the other days
which too have
been drizzled in this
simplest of joys
in this world
of spaceships and subatomic
this and that
two maybe three
times a day
some days
I have the distinct pleasure
of slowly untethering
the one side
from the other
which is like unbuckling
a stack of vertebrae
with delicacy
for I must only use
the tips
of my fingers
with which I will
one day close
my mother’s eyes
this is as delicate
as we can be
in this life
like this
giving the raft of our hands
to the clumsy spider
and blowing soft until she
lifts her damp heft and
crawls off
we practice like this
pushing the seed into the earth
like this first
in the morning
then at night
we practice
sliding the bones home.

Learning to live.

Royce Shook 3 d ago · #4

John, thank you for the comments which helped me to understand the poem a bit better.

John Rylance 5 d ago · #3

#1 I agree.
Hence the saying get a life, to which I would add then live it.

+1 +1
John Rylance 5 d ago · #2

It is often said children cant learn until they have learnt how to learn.
This suggests we dont have a life until we learn how to live that life.
In passing I note that the poem starts with references to buttons, and end with sliding home bones.
Bones where often used to hold together clothing, no doubt in days gone by people sat doing up and undoing their bone buttons and contemplating life.

+1 +1
Ken Boddie 5 d ago · #1

Maria Popova sounds like she’s a bundle of fun, Royce. I’d rather live, savour and enjoy each moment, smelling the roses while they’re in bloom, rather than accept life as something between “not yet and no more”.

+2 +2