Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Skating at the edge of the Wood

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Anticipating the Future

One thing that my experience with cancer has taught me beyond a doubt is that it is absolutely pointless to worry about the future when there is zero chance that you can actually influence it. One should do the best they can and then let go, let it be in the hands of the universe. I also learned that something that dominates your life for months can seem like a footnote later. As the saying goes, "This too shall pass."

A good lesson, yes. Something I needed to know, yes.

When I was in active treatment, I would come home and the boys would be out swimming or playing soccer at the park and at first I would be annoyed. Their life went on, even while I stuggled. Then one day I realized, that their life goes on is a gift. They laugh, they talk about the tadpoles and the crawdads in the creek, about the ducks, about the wonderful blocks and kicks they made. They sing operatically to each other and often are lost in their books. There are hints of the men they will before long become. This is the gift, they can go on without me. I hope they will not have to go on alone yet. I'm planning on being around for a long time yet myself. But whatever comes, there will still be laughter.

There is still joy even when we are at our weakest.
I have lost much of my fear.