My reading life is filled to the brim with a treasured collection of writing by so many gifted authors…or maybe it is the writing of those who had the courage to submit their words for publishing, not thinking of themselves as gifted at all…simply saying what they want to say and offering it to others.
The books, however, remind me a bit of what I wrote in my birthday poem about being “filled up to here,” fuller than full, and they seem to find me right when I am meant to have them. On occasion I come across a book on my shelves that I have long forgotten since the ordering; it is as if it pokes itself off the edge at the exact right moment, saying, “Yes, now is the time.” Most of my books eventually take their rightful place in my life and become good counselors and best friends…and some, when they have served their purpose, or when I have changed and shifted, find their way to the used bookstore or donation bin, always with thanks.
A book that has completely stirred my soul arrived recently and has not yet made it to the shelf. I sit on the terrace with it in the evening, shaking my head and saying, “remarkable” multiple times out loud even though there is no one to hear but the cats, the birds and the evening peepers, as we called them when I was growing up.
Poems from the Pond: 107 Years of Words and Wisdom – The Writings of Peggy Freydberg is that book. While the author wrote and published prose in her earlier years, she did not begin to write poetry until age 90. When she immersed herself in that way of crafting words, the beauty, honesty and even rawness of her feelings poured out onto the pages. Though she has passed away I feel as though I am sitting in her presence on Martha’s Vineyard as I read her words.
When I bought this book I was already in the process of mulling the idea of what it would be like if we did not talk about our life in years. What if we simply lived from one day to the next, not talking about “how old” we are but simply living life from our beginning to our end, however long that is? How would that change us?
Far…far too often we put artificial labels on ages, which then means we put artificial expectations and assumptions on them too. I play with my own tension of being, in traditional calendar years, in my 60s, yet feeling like I am nowhere near that…not in denial but simply in feeling. Madeleine L’Engle said it so beautifully in one of her books…that we are all the ages we have been. I am 4 and 10 and 21 and 35 and on and on. Sometimes I feel like a young child who has not yet grown up and other days, as I look in the mirror, I realize too clearly that time is indeed moving on and yet there is still so much to do. I say that only my parents were allowed to be my current age, not me, and yet the reality is that I am the youngest of three and we are all creeping toward the latter part of the continuum, however long it is!
As a late bloomer I do not want to make assumptions that my age will stop me from doing what I choose. I am, rather, choosing to live in the wonder of all that is being discovered about the brain and that my years ahead may be the best of all!
When this book of poetry arrived I felt a sense of affirmation. Peggy Freydberg began writing poetry at 90, Helen Hoover Santmyer became a celebrity at age 88 for her lengthy novel, And Ladies of the Club, a woman I frequently visited years ago began quilting in her 70s, and a post on a current Facebook page I am part of tells of a woman starting her own business at 85.
I am declaring that I am a mere young thing about to embark on Dr. Seuss adventures in oh,the places I will go. I am counting on these remarkable women to be my mentors. Today I feel inspired to pick up my pen and try some poetry.