As I was in the gym this morning trying to distract myself from, well, being in the gym I spend some time thinking about this blog, why I do it, and what I want it to be. I think I’m going to try writing once a week and see what happens. I do enjoy writing and I hope you enjoy reading. The podcast I was listening to at the gym was NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s a new one for me, recommend by my wife. As with most things she recommends, it was awesome. They spent some time talking about the film “Roma” (see it, it is as amazing as everyone says) and after hearing it, I’m going to rewatch it soon. But the thing that really gave me pause was a brief segment about Mary Oliver. Most know that she passed recently and there has been much discussion of her work. I won’t rehash any of it…instead I want to talk about one of her poems that I love. It’s called “I Worried” Here’s the text:
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
I am, and have been for as long as I remembered, a worrier. There were times in my youth where it just paralyzed me. I’d get it under control sometimes and other times it would come back. I forget where I first came across this poem but the thing that resonated with me the most is the last stanza. “Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up.” I love that she writes about the futility of worry…not something that happened to show her that her worry was unnecessary. The fact that the worry has no result or positive end is, objectively, something that most of us know. When we’re stuck in the middle of it though, it’s harder to see that.
My baseline state is to hide. This sounds strange for someone who makes his life in the performing arts, but if I don’t take active steps all the time to put work into the world, I would never leave my house – maybe never leave my bed. I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect that one can just “give up” worry and be done with it…I know I can’t. But I still have to take my old body out into the morning and sing.
I marvel at people who are able to put work into the world without trepidation…although I suspect that there are in reality, fewer of them than it seems. So, for the time being and for the future, I’ll continue to take my old body out into the morning and sing. I’m going to try not to worry about the result.