Life is Fragile

Life is Fragile

It’s gotten so I’m not sure what I would do without the morning (dog) walk to ground me and get me ready for the day. The quiet (or sometimes the podcasts) help me wake up to the world and myself. I read once somewhere, and now only vaguely remember, something about how the speed of walking is similar to the speed of thinking. And so it seems that my steps meander along with my thoughts and offer up things that I might not expect.

As I walked, trying to digest the events of the Fourth of July weekend (the mass shooting in Highland Park, the state of the country itself, dealing with COVID at home, etc.), I kept thinking this: life is fragile. Life is fragile. Whatever the future holds is unpredictable, and life can change or even be taken away in such a tiny amount of time. It’s a hard truth that we sometimes try and forget, and still, it jumps out at us when we least expect it. Life is fragile.

And then I remembered this poem, called Notice by Steve Kowit: “This evening, the sturdy Levi’s/ I wore every day for over a year/ & which seemed to the end/ in perfect condition, / suddenly tore. /How or why I don’t know, / but there it was: a big rip at the crotch./ A month ago my friend Nick / walked off a racquetball court,/ showered, / got into his street clothes, / & halfway home collapsed  & died. / Take heed, you who read this, / & drop to your knees now & again / like the poet Christopher Smart, / & kiss the earth & be joyful, / & make much of your time, / & be kindly to everyone, / even to those who do not deserve it. / For although you may not believe / it will happen, / you too will one day be gone, / I, whose Levi’s ripped at the crotch / for no reason, / assure that such is the case. / Pass it on.”

Sometimes it helps me to read or hear something captured so perfectly in someone else’s words. There have been times when I’ve read this poem, and my breath has caught on that reminder about the fragility of life. Based on the conversations I’ve had with people this week, though, there are not many of us that need that particular reminder. Instead, with all that these days have brought us, I, and perhaps you, too, need these words: “drop to your knees now & again…..& kiss the earth and be joyful & make much of your time…”

In other words, tend to your spirits. Be gentle with yourselves and one another. Show love, receive love, be held in love. Take your walks and do whatever you need to do to be grounded. Pass it on.