Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7: Poet of the Week, Catharine Savage Brosman, "The Pianist," "Ives" Dip, Off the Top of My Head

I have been struggling recently with the idea of disappointment.

I don't like disappointing people.  As a teacher, I get near-migraines when I can't get my grading done in a timely fashion for my students.  As a husband, I constantly feel like a failure when I don't earn enough money to provide for my family properly.  As a father, I experience incredible sadness when I can't afford to pay for my kids' dental appointments or dance costumes.  Every day, I fight a losing battle and go to bed plagued by disappointments.

This morning, driving to work, I had a long talk with God.  I talked about a lot of stuff.  Work.  Kids.  Teaching.  Money.  Loss.  Grief.  I simply had to unload all the things that have been floating around in my head for the past weeks.  By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I wasn't feeling unburdened and peaceful.  More like angry and resentful at a Supreme Being that seems to be constantly testing my trust and love.

God can take my anger and disappointment.  He understands.  But, at the moment, I take no comfort in that.  I would prefer a God that drops a tenure-track job in my lap.  Or a God that fixes the brakes on my car or makes my mortgage payment.  It would be really easy to love a God like that.

Unfortunately, God doesn't work like that.  God sometimes forces you to make hard decisions, like asking the Salvation Army to help you get Christmas presents for your kids.  Or bringing your sister home from the hospital under hospice care and watching her die.  God wants us to love Him in times of great happiness and great sorrow.

Sorry for the long ramble.  I've had these thoughts kicking around my head for several days, and my conversation with God this morning just made them a little harder to ignore.

I do have a new Poet of the Week.  Catharine Savage Brosman and the poems from her collection The Muscled Truce:

The Pianist

by:  Catharine Savage Brosman

The notes convulse the air
before the final pause.
He rises, shakes his hair,
and bows to the applause.

The power of desire
preserved in every chord,
his purpose is entire,
and passion its reward,

for, with his practiced hands
and genius in his ears,
his body understands
all beauty that he hears;

but in another space,
where music is unknown
and evening has no face,
he finds himself alone,

and on the heart's clavier
a silent sound is heard,
the forming of a tear,
the falling of a bird.

I guess that poem appealed to me because of the ending.  The tear.  The dying bird.  The silent sound of isolation.  I may be surrounded by people all day, but very few of them will take the time to ask me "How are you?" and expect an honest answer.  That's the silence of the human condition a lot of the time.

So, today is Ives Dip Monday.  I have so many unanswered questions today that I don't know where to start.  So, maybe I'll just ask this:

Am I a disappointment to the people in my life?

And the answer:

...Those were changes that [Ives] liked, but, just the same, Ives had moments in the office when the sense that he had wasted himself creatively would come over him, and he would feel nostalgia for his younger days, when he had fantasies about the creative life...

Well, there you go.  Ives dealing with disappointment, as well.  I guess it's just part of being human to always want something better, something that's just out of reach.

Off the Top of My Head

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