Friday, December 21, 2012

In the Winter of Our Times, The Bittersweet

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have Promises to Keep,
And Miles to go Before I sleep,
And Miles to go Before I sleep"
- Robert Frost, 1922

I keep coming back to this final stanza by one of the modern (20th Century) poems I greatly admire, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". My grandfather was only six years old when it was first published a year later. Why is this significant to me now? Well, it is the first official day of the coldest and darkest season of the year in North America, and usually not my favorite. Like most humans (I would imagine), I seek light, warmth, and shelter not unlike the lower animal beings, but we have also develped this habit over the years of gathering by said light warmth and shelter and opening these curious things called books. Some of us even presume to mull our thoughts over and commit the results to paper (or computer), following a grand tradition of contemplative writing.

This poem, in particular, has stayed with me all the years since I first read it in high school, because it reflects many things recently occurring in my personal life as well as the world's collective experience. At different points, this stanza was a mantra to "keep going", to not give up into despair and self-destructive thoughts. I remember this as clearly as I can recite "The Lord is My Shepherd", and I find that they complement each other, in a way. Now, it reminds me to stop a while and reflect, admire tranquility, simple beauties often overlooked or disparaged. It has always been the kind of thing my mind wanders to when I am feeling particularly alone and cold walking about by myself, which often happens in this time of the year. Funny that my birthday falls on one such day, practically in the middle of winter, as a constant challenge to my continued determination to exist with significance and purpose.

I stumbled upon a rather engaging website called mental_floss where I could literally wallow away any down feelings with as many trivia facts and theories that my mind could absorb. Imagine my pleasure to find a poignant and thoroughly appropriate list of select quotations from Mister Fred Rogers, a PBS staple in my childhood home.

Mister Rogers, Robert Frost and Bob Ross... sigh....

Please enjoy below, especially #3...
- The wisdom of Mister Rogers... mental_floss

I am glad that a lot of hard discussions are currently at the forefront of public consciousness and media coverage. In the past week, a lost soul reached his breaking point and killed his mother, 20 6- and 7-year-olds, six courageous educators and then himself. We also more quietly welcomed back into safety veteran NBC news anchor Richard Engel and his crew from Syrian abductees. Large tragedies and small miracles abound in both stories continuing to unfold. We have some major decisions to be made as a nation of many peoples but one destiny. One day we will all be gone, but it remains to be seen, what or whom will be forgotten.

I leave you with this...

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