Today I was reminded of a poem that I read back in college. I still think it is timely.
Down By The Salley Gardens
William Butler Yeats
Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.
In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.
This poem was written in 1889 based on an old Irish folk song, “Crossways”. It is clearly talking about an old man looking back on his younger, foolish self and wishing that he would have taken the advice given to him by his lost love. This got me thinking even more than I usually do. People often pose the question, “What would you tell your younger self?” This poem is that.
I was asked this question shortly after I was diagnosed. I was on a website for people with rare diseases, when they asked this question. I have thought about that question so many times, and each time I give a different answer. The first time I answered it with, “I would tell her that she matters. I would have her forgive herself easier and not sweat the small stuff.” That’s right! I would tell me that. The young me wouldn’t listen anyway, but I would tell her! The problem I see with this is that is if I hadn’t done all of the things I’ve done, or chosen the things that I did, I wouldn’t be me. I definitely wouldn’t have grown into a person that I actually like. I had to make the mistakes and sweat the small stuff to know that it really is small stuff.
The problem with me now is that I struggle with the mundane. Every day of my life goes along much like the one before, and then ends up like the one after that. I go about my life, just trying to live my life. The redundancy of that sentence is really indicitive of how I “feel”. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, especially since God decided it wasn’t my time and allowed me to survive my artery surgery. (I woke up pissed I was still alive, but that is another blog!!) Since my health issues changed “life as I knew it”, I literally struggle with wasting time. I am forced to spend a good portion of my life in bed trying to recover from something I will never recover from!! I know that we don’t have time to waste, but isn’t that what “living” does?? Wastes a lot of time we could use “living” like having fun!! I mean I romanticize “LIVING LIFE”! I try to picture doing something earth shattering, or making a huge changes in the world, or doing something notable. There are people who pass away and then people say “Boy, she really lived!” What does that mean?? I say, I’m sure they did, but how much of that life did they feel was just mundane? What does it mean to really “live”?
I think that my time spent living means: (ready for the long list?)…..
*Praying, *taking the good with the bad, *going to work, *making a difference, *not making a difference, *waking, *drinking coffee, *showering, *eating, *pooping, *taking medication, *sleeping, *resting, *crocheting, *reading, *writing, *listening, *listening when you don’t give a shit, *sharing, *playing nice, *getting angry, *getting over it, *getting on with it, *getting it on, *drinking, *playing, *swinging, *swimming, *walking, *talking, *talking even when you have nothing to say, *talking and rambling if you have a captive audience, *calling people, *answering the phone, *not answering the phone, *paying bills, *texting, *worrying, *worrying, *worrying, *going to the doctor, *not going to the doctor, *making choices, *being nice, *forgiving people who don’t deserve it, *loving, *not loving, *eating humble pie, *doing the right thing, *not doing the right thing, *driving fast, *singing loud, *playing music, *petting the dog, *cleaning, *cooking, *laughing, *crying, *being afraid, *being really afraid everyday, *being brave, *being compassionate, *understanding, *praying again, *hug, *hug, *hugging, *then do it all over and over and over again.
I’m sure that my list is different than yours, and I am sure mine is incomplete. Each of us is “living” in the now, you don’t have any choice. We borrow trouble when we shouldn’t, we waste precious minutes worrying about all of the unknowns and “what if’s”, we compare our lives to other people, we envy, we boast, we are gluttons, we are not good stewards of our time. I think that Yeats had it right, “But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.” I am still foolish, not so young. The only difference between Yeats and I? I am not going to cry for what I didn’t do, or what I didn’t get done. Each mundane day has brought me here…..right here. Blessing and curse. Just rambling. Food for thought.