06 June 2006

The Journey

I chose to re-name my blog after the Mary Oliver poem Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine because I like the poem and the imagery it creates and I am a fan of Oliver’s other work titled The Journey.

I stumbled on The Journey at a critical time in my life. The strength that I gained by its message was incalculable at that crucial time. After years in an unhappy marriage and the efforts made to repair the damage proved unsuccessful, I made the decision to leave.

It was the year before my 40th birthday. My daughter was a senior in high school, soon to be 18. I watched in collective horror as events unfolded on 11 September. George Harrison passed away soon thereafter. All of these events coalescing caused me to examine where I was in my life. And truth be told, I did not like what I saw. I determined that I was better off being alone than being unhappy.

The frequent fighting caused by the family struggles was starting to show in the attitude of my young son. My daughter was acting out. And my husband wavered between being unsupportive and a full on instigator of the tribulation. It was an unhealthy situation on many levels and had been allowed to percolate for a very long time. I take my share of the blame in that regard. But by the time I tried to wield an influence for positive change the dye had been cast.

I gave ultimatums. I gave warnings. But it all seemed to fall on deaf ears. And the reaction to my final act of desperation seemed to come as a total surprise, as if they never expected mom to really go through with it. But I had to do it. And I have not regretted it for a moment. My only guilt is in not having done something sooner.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

© Mary Oliver.

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