Thursday, August 25, 2011

Disappearing Act

Reading a magazine, I come across a poem by one of my all-time favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye. The title of the poem is The Art of Disappearing.

I want to share this poem, for so many reasons. Because it resonated with me. Because it moved me. Because it reminded me of me. Because it reminded me of time, how precious it is. Because it reminded me that my son is growing up quickly, and every day he takes a step further away from me. But I don't need to try and hold on. I am doing my job. I just need to make sure that when he takes his final steps away, there is something still here.

That I am still here.

And I thought of time. How we give so much away. I thought of the Reiki I class I just finished, of energy, of that familiar sense I've always had with other people,  a curious sense of both awareness and detachment. I remembered a moment in high school when I chose to stand by a friend even though it meant watching my own repution go down in flames. And I remembered a phrase from Gone With the Wind, a sentence spoken by Rhett Butler that lodged in my head when I first read the book at 13 and has never left. "With enough courage, you can do without a reputation." I remembered what it was like to disappear that day, to spend the next few years trying simply not to be seen by a group of people who were, for the most part, so locked into a communal idea of reality that they were incapable of seeing me at all.


The Art of Disappearing by Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say don't I know you
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
that they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say we should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastary bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

                                                                          - from Shambala Sun, March 2011 edition

I have a new project. It will never be finished. It isn't art. It isn't writing. It isn't knitting. It isn't teaching. It isn't even mothering. I am, as we all are, so much more than just the things that I create.

I've long had the courage to do without a reputation. But I will never have time to sing the past any of my new songs.

It could never catch up.