Every year October brings with it a sharp shift in seasons, and with my birthday some garden variety existential angst. This time though October was filled with so many challenges, birthday angst barely made an appearance.
Collective losses were made personal and being able to dream and look ahead required an extraordinary effort. I was telling a friend today how this last month has felt like everything is constantly moving with my feet bolted to the ground. All whiplash and no agency. But if the last few years have taught me anything, it is that tectonic shifts take time to surface but once they do, you have to learn to stay still while the movement runs its course.
Today I want to share Maggie Smith’s ‘Good Bones’, a poem I first came across in 2016 - fittingly the year that put in motion much of what we’re seeing the effect of now. So it only seemed apt to bring it out of my saved pages and share it with you in 2020 as we’re in the midst of the shaking.
By Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
We could make this place beautiful.