We live instead
Here's a new fun game called more or less, to keep our heads and hearts strong. Let me read you two poems, two very good poems.
These days I'm pretty much only interested in mutually assured survival.
I mean how we keep each other alive. How we care for those who are struggling, including ourselves, and keep us strong enough to do it.
I'm interested in what makes me like living, here and now, in the world as it is. Because it’s the only one we’ve got, and it isn’t ending. As much as it’s fallen out of fashion to encourage resilience…we have to become more resilient. It’s a choice, yes, and also, imperative. So long as the world we’ve got is the one we have, and one we might like to change, we have to find ways to stay sane, and strong, and soft as hell.
And the wild thing is, despite everything, when I stack every reason to wake up in the morning, and carry my whole heart from room to room, I am stunned by how much I can love at one time. I am stunned by the human heart. At its capacity to swell and break, the miraculous work it does each day, the length it can go (up to 60,000 miles, if you laid every vessel in your body end to end!). How well it stands up to metaphor.
I have spent a lot of time with my heart this winter. Checking in on how it's doing, one day to the next. What helps it feel bigger, or big enough at least to hold what hurts. What I need more of, what I want less of.
More or less. It's been a useful framework. A simple way to take stock of what it takes to get to the end of each day feeling whole, and loved and loving, to consider what worked, what didn't, and what's in my control to change. More or less.
More fresh air.
More cooking, more carrots, more mindful snacks. More nutrients. More water.
Less skipping breakfast. More tea. Less caffeine. Less advil.
More stretching. More books.
More morning. Less saying yes to what I don't yet understand.
More time to myself.
Less time with a screen.
More sex. More dressing right for the weather.
Less cold. Less complaint. More wearing good socks.
Less stuff. Less scheduling.
More bike. More walk. More breath. More poem.
More telling the people I love that I love them.
More showing the people I love that I love them.
Less leaping headfirst toward the day's awful nonsense.
More Sonny. More patience. More asking for more of what I want and deserve. Less assumption around what I deserve.
More asking questions when I'm actually curious.
Less scrambling to run out the clock.
More silence, more sleep, more productive discomfort.
Less try to change anyone's mind.
More let people be who they are.
More cherish your time like your oldest friend.
More move your body every hour if possible.
Less booze. Less weed, but only a little.
More color. More coloring.
Less saying I'm sorry, but only a little.
More sky. More sunrise. Less traffic. More writing.
More me, less ego.
What do you need more and less of? Tell me. I’d like to know.
In the meantime, here's your poems.
Nothing much we can do about it so we live
the way old bones and fossils lived, the way
long-buried cities lived: we live instead
—just as if and even believing that here
and finally now, ours could be the real world.
Perhaps the world ends here
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
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