Just See

by Tom Swift

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

-Walt Whitman, Drum Taps: The Complete Civil War Poems (2015)

Life is suffering. We’re all messed up, screwed up, useless, and dumb. Yet there is this fact: we’re here. We’re alive. We’ve got our feet on this big rock hurling through the cosmos. At least right now we do. If even for a moment, we have the chance to shine a little light and bring a little warmth, and never matter that none of it may last a day.

I’m tired of trying to make something of the world. Literally, my body is worn out. Exhausted. The metaphor that comes to mind is the cleaving of clay. A tall stack of red sand clay, standing tall in the middle of a mountainside dessert, the sun beating down, wind at my feet, I dig my wire in and remove a chunk of the clay. Enough so that I must hold it with both hands. I try to shape it into something the world has not seen. I imagine that I will hold it up for the world to see. I am little more than the toddler who says, “look what I did, mom!” Indeed, I imagine making something of it to show me myself — and you me.

Enough: let the clay be. Set down the wire. Step back from the tall stack of red sand clay. Just see it. That is all. Just see it. If you can.

It’s already what it is supposed to be.