Friday, August 26, 2011

Obstinacy - A Gift?

A Gift

~ Denise Levertov ~

(Sands of the Well)

Just when you seem to yourself

nothing but a flimsy web

of questions, you are given

the questions of others to hold

in the emptiness of your hands,

songbird eggs that can still hatch

if you keep them warm,

butterflies opening and closing themselves

in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure

their scintillant fur, their dust.

You are given the questions of others

as if they were answers

to all you ask. Yes, perhaps

this gift is your answer.



My response:


I am in one of those states of mind — If you say, 'let's go left," I will assuredly head to the right. If you say TomAto, I'll say toMMato — Resistant to the end..


I've never had an idea or question that seemed 'flimsy' and I've certainly never been a web of questions. More often I'm full of answers - egotistical - No wonder folks find me a tad obstinate or just down right oppositional.


One of the serious criticisms of Das Book is that the protagonist is too strong, not vulnerable enough, that there is no room for her to grow.


I have to admit, I don't much wonder about that criticism. Like many others, I've always been the one to take care, co-dependent to the core. That co-dependence means that I don't much need anyone to take care of me - well - not til the Aussie walked into my space. I love that his ego is stronger than mine and that he will take the lead, that he expects to take the lead, that I can let go and let the bloke — my new AA metaphor for 'higher power'.


That's not entirely true, you know. I argue endlessly with him about all matter of decisions and issues in our lives and the lives of others on the planet. But in the end, it's certainly a debate among equals.


And when there is no resolution, the response from me is "Ok, that's enough. Let's not talk about that anymore today."


Or he says, "Well, I guess there are just some topics we cannot discuss."


But that's not true. There is no topic that we cannot discuss. There are many topics on which we will never agree. Should one drink chamomile tea when one's colon is no longer working properly? Should one continue to use the Dr's prescriptive medicine when the body responds by becoming less healthy than it was before one took that medication?

Levertov's poem is perfect for one who works with teens. I would have resonated to it ten years ago. Today, I have to deal with the teen inside my own head and she is totally unwilling to admit to the vulnerability that Levertov suggests exists in all of us.