Tag Archives: simplicity

Fame

As I watch Michael Phelps tell Bob Costas that he was “on an express elevator to the bottom floor” after his initial rise to Olympic fame, and as I live in Malibu where celebrities live in secure fortresses, and as I see pretty much everything in this presidential election, and as I contemplate my own passion for distinction (to borrow Bruce Miroff’s great phrase), the following Hafiz poem comes to mind:

Two Bears

Once
After a hard day’s forage
Two bears sat together in silence
On a beautiful vista
Watching the sun go down
And feeling deeply grateful
For life.

Though, after a while
A thought-provoking conversation began
Which turned to the topic of
Fame.

The one bear said,
“Did you hear about Rustam?
He has become famous
And travels from city to city
In a golden cage;

He performs to hundreds of people
Who laugh and applaud
His carnival
Stunts.”

The other bear thought for
A few seconds.

Then started
Weeping.

Choose Sanity

My high school buddies and I had great fun with the imagist poetry phase of William Carlos Williams. Wow, that makes us sound so intelligent. Instead, we were clueless teenage boys with no appreciation for anything resembling culture who simply made fun of the poem in our literature book about a wheelbarrow and chickens.

Now, in my mid-forties, well, not much has changed.

But in my advanced years I do at least make an effort. Each morning when I arrive at the office I read a poem from Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, and a few weeks ago I stumbled across another popular poem from Williams’s imagist phase:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I still think Williams was smoking something.

Regardless, the next poem Keillor shared was a reply to Williams from Erica-Lynn Gambino:

This Is Just To Say
(for William Carlos Williams)

I have just
asked you to
get out of my
apartment

even though
you never
thought
I would

Forgive me
you were
driving
me insane.

Gambino is my kind of poet.

Other than abstaining from your roommate’s frozen plums, please know that this is not an attempt at relationship advice. Instead, I’m aiming at a little life metaphor here when I ask: Are you willing to remove from your life the things that are driving you insane?

I’m not sure about you, but my life is filled to the brim with countless responsibilities, information overload, and myriad relationships, just to name a few major categories. It is more than possible that life can be so full that it explodes like a balloon, leaving an awful mess to clean up—unless, of course, we cull a few crazy-makers along the way.

My guess is that none of us are super hot at giving up the things that drive us nuts—as crazy as that alone is to admit. Author Bob Goff famously quits something every Thursday. I think he is on to something.

If you want things to start looking up, lighten the load by getting rid of some stuff that drains the life right out of you. Even if it isn’t Thursday.

(And, regardless, be careful around plums.)