Thursday, November 28, 2019

'Twenty Other Occasions'

“It’s mainly because of Thanksgiving.”

Perhaps it’s age but I’ve grown intolerant of complaining. It seems impertinent. The world is a vast, complicated, never fully revealed gift made up of smaller, daily gifts. The speaker in Anthony Hecht’s “The Transparent Man,” dying of leukemia, expresses it well as she studies the “dense, clustered woodland” visible through her hospital window:

“It’s become a sort of complex, ultimate puzzle
And keeps me fascinated.”

A ready gauge of good company is immunity to boredom. When someone complains of tedium, excuse yourself and head for the door. Your soul is about to be sucked out of you. I’m with John Berryman’s mother: one relies on “Inner Resources.” Life, friends, is not boring. Charles Lamb was not the sanest of men but he understood the primacy of giving thanks:

“I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, or a solved problem. Why have we none for books, those spiritual repasts — a grace before Milton — a grace before Shakspeare [sic]— a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Fairy Queen?”

1 comment:

Thomas Parker said...

As Randall Jarrell said, "It is absurd not to call the world evil, and it is impossible to take the condemnation seriously: either laughter or tears are impossibly inadequate, we have for it only the stare we give Medusa’s head."