Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23: Family Men, Moments of Sun, Tomas Transtromer, "On the Outskirts of Work," Adventures of Stickman

Ives and Freeman were two of the more respectable higher-ups.  "Family men," whom the slightly looped secretaries tended to praise to death at these parties, for their gentlemanly natures and fidelity to their wives...

Ives is a respectable guy.  He shows up to work on time dressed in a suit and tie, treats everybody with respect, doesn't cheat on his wife, doesn't abuse his kids, and genuinely seems to care about people.  Ives doesn't have any deep, dark secrets hidden away in the closet.  He's a family man who's done well for himself doing what he loves to do:  drawing and painting.  Art.

I think I'm a pretty respectable guy, too.  Sometimes I wear a tie to work.  I show up on time, treat all my coworkers with respect.  I love my wife and kids fiercely and care about all the people in my life.  I have few secrets.  Most of my personal life is right here on this blog.  If you want to find out about the skeletons in my closet, you have over 2,600 blog posts to read.  Hint:  I'm not an alcoholic or drug addict, and I don't torture puppies in my spare time.

Of course, there's the saying that nice guys finish last.  That may be true.  Certainly, Ives is a nice guy, and his life is pretty much derailed for several decades by the murder of his son.  I've had my share of challenges in my life, too.  Death and separation and depression and mental illness.  Just because a person lives a good life doesn't mean that he won't have to endure hardships.  But, every once in a while, in the midst of struggle, there are moments of sun.

I experienced one of those moments this afternoon when I met with the head of the English Department at the university.  The meeting was about my upcoming bid for promotion.  It was the first time I'd had a chance to visit with my new boss.  She was warm and friendly, and we discovered we had a lot in common.  She's a poet.  She studies the connection between spirituality and writing.  In fact, she's done spiritually-based writing workshops.  And she's finishing up her Master's of Divinity.  In short, she seemed very pastoral in her demeanor and personality.

At the end of our time together, she suggested we have drinks and discuss maybe doing a poetry reading or workshop together.  Yes, it was that friendly and encouraging.  Plus, she's going to support my bid for promotion.

At the end of this very long work day, I am blessedly content, like Transtromer in today's poem.  There is exhaustion on the outskirts of work, but, if we look down or out or around, there are wild geese flying against a copper moon.  Miracles every day.

Saint Marty enjoyed himself this afternoon for the first time in a while.

On the Outskirts of Work

by:  Tomas Transtromer

In the middle of work
we start longing fiercely for wild greenery,
for the Wilderness itself, penetrated only
by the thin civilization of the telephone wires.


The moon of leisure circles the planet Work
with its mass and weight.--That's how they want it.
When we are on the way home the ground pricks up its ears.
The underground listens to us via the grass-blades.


Even in this working day there is a private clam.
As in a smoky inland area where a canal flows:
THE BOAT appears unexpectedly in the traffic
or glides out behind the factory, a white vagabond.


One Sunday I walk past an unpainted new building
standing before the gray water.
It is half-finished.  The wood has the same light color
as the skin on someone bathing.


Outside the lamps the September night is totally dark.
When the eyes adjust, there is faint light
over the ground where large snails glide out
and the mushrooms are as numerous as the stars.

Adventures of STICKMAN

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