Beauty, Perception, and Bears. Oh, my.

Grief is not linear. There is no start here, move along the squares, and make it to the “end.” That’s why it feels good to do mundane things sometimes–tasks that can be accomplished.

Finish the laundry and enjoy the empty banging sound of the dryer door.

Wipe the counter clean and look at the lack of crumbs.

Fill the empty bird feeder and watch the birds. Actually, don’t. It’s spring and the birds have plenty to eat and the beautiful bears are waking up. Oh, to hibernate. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I have often wondered, with the technological magic of medicine, why they can’t put the patient in hibernation, do all the nasty radiation treatments, then wake them up weeks later when it’s all over. According to New Scientist, “…it is not technically possible to hibernate a human in a safe and controlled way.” But some researchers believe this is a possibility in the near future. 


Of course we want an easy answer to end suffering. But as I tell my students from time to time, “It’s nice to want.” The facetious tone usually makes them stop whining.

But whining and wanting miracles is part of grieving. I have literally stamped my feet while crying and yelling, “It’s not FAIR! I WANT MORE TIME!” Why do murderers and rapists get to live and good people have to die? Why do I have to be a widow and other people get decades with their partners? Why indeed.

“So much of our lives is meaningless, a self-canceling vacillation and futility. We strive with the chaos about and within, but we should believe all the while that there is something vital and significant in us, could we but decipher our own souls. We want to understand.”

Will Durant

But can we understand why something as beautiful as this:

osteosarcoma cell phalloidin


can kill?




Can we understand the power of trees? Or the persistence of beauty?



It’s not about understanding. It’s about perceiving.









What did Blake say?

If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite. –“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”


Why is it that poetry can give us understandings that logical prose cannot?


In her amazing poem “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” Tracy K. Smith asks,

And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure
That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? 


“Poetry surprises and deepens our sense of the ordinary. Poetry tells us that the world is full of wonder, revelation, consolation, and meaning. ”
Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate (2017– )

Tell me what YOU think, please.

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