Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift

Fear

What would you do if you knew that the best is yet to come? Would you stop worrying and hedging your bets? Would you let go of something substandard in your life? All indications point to … the best really is yet to come!

-Holiday Mathis, “Horoscope,” StarTribune, 4-27-2017

Self Expression

Is it any wonder that I’m tired?
Is it any wonder that I feel uptight?
Is it any wonder I don’t know what’s right?

-Keane, “Is It Any Wonder?” Under the Iron Sea (2006)

Self

You should listen to your heart
It’s gonna tell you what you need
Take care of yourself.

-Tristan Prettyman, “Say Anything,” Cedar and Gold (2012)

Courage

One night they both needed different things
of a similar kind; she, solace; he, to be consoled.
So after a wine-deepened dinner
whey they arrived at their house separately
in the same car, each already had been failing
the other with what seemed
an unbearable delay of what felt due.
What solace meant to her was being understood
so well you’d give it to her before she asked.
To him, consolation was a network
of agreements: say what you will
as long as you acknowledge what I mean.
In the bedroom they undressed and dressed
and got into bed. The silence was what fills
a tunnel after a locomotive passes through.
Days later the one most needy finally spoke.
“What’s on TV tonight?” he said this time,
and she answered, and they were okay again.
Each, forever, would remember the failure
to give solace, the failure to be consoled.
And many, many future nights
would find them turning to their respective sides
of the bed, terribly awake and twisting up
the covers, or, just as likely, moving closer
and sleeping forgetfully the night long.

-Stephen Dunn, “The Unsaid,” Local Visitations (2004)

Love

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her —
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

-Mary Oliver, “Spring” New and Selected Poems (1992)

Risk

What do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?

-Celine Dion, “Taking Chances,” Taking Chances (2007)

Shame

The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.

-Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (reissue, 1989)

Love

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

-Carl Jung

Self

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

-Bob Dylan, “Like a Rolling Stone,” Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Presence

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

-W.H. Davies, “Leisure,” Songs Of Joy and Others (1911)