Poet and teacher Patrice Vecchione reflects:
To be alive is not primarily a linear experience. It’s a mix of dreaming and running to the store for a quart of milk. Our lives have depth, in part, because we can’t make sense of everything. Life doesn’t make sense; it’s more complicated than our linear way of knowing. Mystery and spirit run through our days like rivers and sustain us. Life is a blend of possibility and impossibility… From chaos comes clarity. It was there all along. You just couldn’t see it. To come to clarity, you have to enter the chaos. Dive in or enter inch by inch. Confusion is not a bad thing.
This bit of wisdom is not just theoretical for her. Vecchione’s relationship with her mother was an emotionally painful one. An alcoholic with mental illness, her mother was, “a mean drunk” who, at one point, disowned her daughter. “She would call me and leave messages that said, ‘You are not my daughter.'”
Unflinchingly, she says that her mother is one reason she is a poet today. I wonder if that isn’t true for a lot of us. Oh, most of us did not come from abusive homes. We all did come from imperfect ones, though. None of us survived childhood without scars and wounds, and no one makes it far into adulthood without accumulating a good bit of pain.
“Life doesn’t make sense; it’s more complicated than our linear way of knowing. Mystery and spirit run through our days like rivers and sustain us.” That is the reason the question “Why?” is almost always the wrong one. We ask it because we think it will give us some resolution or some control over the parts of our life that simply don’t make sense. Confusion is not a bad thing because, if we can make peace with those places in our life, we may discover the poet in our soul. None of us can take this adventure we call life without some pain. I think we ought to have two goals in this regard:
- Inflict as little pain as possible, on others, on creation, on ourselves.
- Don’t waste a drop of it. The good news is that, although pain is inevitable for everyone, it always comes with a gift in its hands. Find it.