Thursday, 9 January 2014

Look to this Day

Look To This Day

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

By the poet Kalidasa, widely regarded as the greatest poet in the Sanskrit language, writing probably in the Fifth Century AD.

I went to yoga the other night, dragging myself away from the woodburning stove and the warm chair into the blowing, rainfilled night.  The hall where the class takes place was cold too, unusually.  The caretaker had forgotten to put the heating on.  We shivered and kept our socks on.  Our calm and cheerful teacher worked gently to warm us up and to get us to move and by the end I could feel my blood and breath moving warmly inside me.  As we finished, having spent some time in Shivasana, the relaxation pose, she read us this poem and to my astonishment and very English embarrassment I was suddenly rocking with sobs, right there on the floor in the middle of a village hall in winter.  Why?  I am not sure I can tell you.  Because I am not looking to the day perhaps.  Because it is the perfect expression of my mother's philosophy.  Because my anxiety about my father and how to be there for him when I live so far away is constantly pulling me away from the now and whirling me towards a dark and dangerous future.

So let me try to pull back into the present and to find every day something which is good right now.

Yesterday it was a walk with Ian on Talacre Beach. 


 The sea and sky were silver grey.  It was totally windless.   The dried reeds and grasses on the landward side of the sand dunes hung bleached and still above pools of dark, unmoving water.  The high tides and strong winds had carved into the dunes down by the beach and cut great swathes  of sand away.  The beach was empty, the tide coming in.  We walked on the hard sand and not a trace of wind stirred.  I was glad to be there, to be there with Ian, not talking, just the two of us together, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Today it was coffee with a friend at the Denbigh Chocolate Shop and a lime and chilli chocolate to eat with it.

It is a small shop and inside it was warm, smelling gloriously of chocolate and coffee.  It was good to be somewhere else and to talk with someone who knows me well about all sorts of things, serious and less so, about her family and mine.  Thank heaven for friends.

My knitting is progressing, after several abortive starts and restarts.


This wool from our holiday in the Outer Hebrides is slowly becoming a cowl, with a pattern like the waves of the sea.

Tonight we are going out for a meal in our local pub.

How do you look to this day?
   

25 comments:

  1. A beautiful poem Elizabeth which I shall read and read again - thanks for the introduction to Kalidasa.

    Take care. Be gentle with yourself.

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  2. Happy New Year Elizabeth. Lovely, thoughtful post. I have the same dark fears and trepidations about ageing parents miles away which are exacerbated every time one more Christmas is snuck in with them and the future holds only uncertainty. So many mixed emotions about New Year - slate is wiped clean but soon to be dirtied and messed up again. So...the only sensible thing to do is concentrate on those individual, special moments which string together to form a lifetime of experience - some good, some bad - which makes us the people we are.

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  3. Thank you for the poem. "Today, well-lived" is a fine philosophy to live by. In spite of our pain and loss, or our fatigue or whatever limitations we bring to it.

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  4. You will look more to the day, but in time. This is a wonderful poem, so true, and a good path for life, but, still, there will be pain. No one expects you to deny that pain or to hold it in at all times. Please be gentle on yourself.

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  5. Dear Elizabeth,

    Reading these words of yours, and this poem, of course, makes me wish I could close the door of our home behind me and make my way, somehow, to your woodstove on the cold, beautiful hillside. Your pain is your own, and yet it is universal as is your anxiety about what the future holds for you and your family. Pain and joy, ebb and flow. It's funny how you have chosen to knit a cowl with a sea pattern (is it, by any chance the Song Of The Sea Cowl?)

    I truly wish I could show some support. I can imagine how rewarding it must be to have you as a friend.

    Warmest wishes for a peaceful New Year filled with moments of love and joy.

    Stephanie

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  6. I don't think I can express my feelings as well as all the above have. It is a lovely poem - as others have said - be kind to yourself. I am also a great believer in everything working out in the end. Mind you, I am a great one to talk as, in spite of having a new man in my life, I still do not cope very well with Max' continuing decline. His 84th birthday today.

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  7. Looking to the day is not easy, when you're an old Bear and have difficulties in rousing. But it is good thought: "What is important today"? And so the day begins, and runs its course.

    I felt your thoughts with you, as you walked the seashore. Bit of a dreary day; the sky and sea in at least a couple of shades of fray (not 50).

    blessings and Bear hugs!

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  8. Elizabeth, what you've written here is sure to give each reader reason to pause and think a bit. This reader thanks you for the poem and its reminder that our fellow humans have been wondering and wandering for many centuries.

    Perhaps it's that span of time between the origin of the poem and today that touches us. If I had heard that poem read to me after a yoga session, on a chilly day, and been there and then because I had so chosen...well, Elizabeth, I am pretty sure that I also would have had your reaction.

    I've never been married, and don't have any children. I remember ages ago...perhaps when I was in my thirties, being astounded by my own Mom saying that what she and her friends talked about most were their children. Decades later, my friends and I do talk quite a bit about our parents and other family members. I am not quite sure when these sliding screens shifted and one generation began to think and talk and ponder about another generation.

    Looking to the day is a guide that seems very positive, natural, practical.

    Elizabeth, when I started writing this comment i had some thoughts in my head, and now I am not very sure that my laptop's keyboard has transmitted them. So. Thank you for your beautifully written post.

    xo

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  9. One day at a time and one foot in front of the other. You said it, and you're doing it - so hard, but it's the only way. As winter wanes (as it will!) and spring unfolds may you find it a little easier to do.

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  10. I don't think I can phrase anything better than the comments above. You write beautifully and very movingly. Be kind to yourself. Cherish the small things.

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  11. Hi Elizabeth, I've just been catching up with your posts after a Christmas of getting behind with blogs and so have only just found out about your mother - I'm so sorry. I sometimes rehearse the loss of mine in my head in anticipation of its inevitable coming at some time, and find it almost impossible to grasp the idea of her not being here, despite our difficult past. I send you a big hug and know that you will learn to live without her, even if you tuck that sadness away somewhere and let it out when you need to. x

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  12. I've lost track of the times I've dissolved into tears since I lost my parents - it can happen in the most inconvenient places, triggered by often inconsequential events, and leave you reeling for a while, so I sympathise completely. But the poem's words are wise ones and we all just have to move forward one step at a time. Carry on being kind to yourself.

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  13. A lovely poem, Elizabeth. It is tempting to be overwhelmed by thoughts of the future and the sad things that will happen, so this is a reminder to cherish the day and live it well.

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  14. This sounds like a good day. it made me feel good. I have been eying my spinning wheel thinking I would love the feel of the wool flowing through my fingers. Maybe after I finish this quilt project. I find It takes more good feeling things to counteract the memories of the past or maybe it is just my age. my best.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this poem.
    "And today well-lived, makes
    Yesterday a dream of happiness"
    These 2 lines sum it all up to me. I've recently been worrying much more about things I have no control over. I must try to live each day for itself and make it count.
    Teresa x

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  16. Something happens during yoga and deep emotions can well up - I too have struggled to hold back the tears and wish I felt able to let them flow that day... I think a lot of the emotions about losing your Mum have come to the surface and of course your worries about your father. I am so glad you enjoyed the day - it sounds like a very special day - as you say thank goodness for good friends and for close family too. And thank you for sharing the poem.

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  17. What a marvelous day, and a good escape from the stress in your life.

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  18. I'm trying to live in the day and do something each day that puts a smile on someones face or makes their day better but it's hard to forward plan and not overthink I find xx

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  19. A lovely poem, and I don't wonder that it touched you as it did, at a time when you had no choice but to stop for a few minutes. I hope you are able to live it more, despite the repeated tugging of fear and anxiety into tomorrow. Your day with Ian was such a good idea.
    As an habitual worrier, I am fortunate to live with someone whose oft-repeated motto is "Right here, right now" - and it is both grounding and comforting to hold onto when I spiral into "what if" or "what happened".

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  20. Days like these are gifts from God and I’m not even religious.
    It does me good to think of filling days with joy.
    For my NY’s Resolution I have decided to smile much, much more.

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  21. Well, you're the second person today that spoke to me about getting back into yoga again... something that's been hovering just at the back of my mind, behind the ever-present "to do list" of things that always come first somehow, even though I know how important taking care of my mind and body are. You're also talking about yarn and new projects - my two hanks of new hand-dyed yarn are sitting by the couch, waiting for me to take up the crochet hook again. Your worries are also my worries - only it's my dad that's gone, and my mother that I worry about, but it's the same issue at the root. So thank you for a post that spoke to me so specifically. I am moving toward doing the right things, and you have inspired me.

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  23. You sound a bit as though you're beginning to defrost, a little at a time. I'm glad you're able to find some pleasures in things - a sure sign of defreezing - and I'm sure that delicious blue yarn is performing some colour therapy on you,

    Hugs, Kate

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  24. That poem really struck a chord with me. Thank you. I'm with Stephanie... just feel as if I'd like to meet with you and give you a hug. See you at the Chocolate Shop - sounds blissful.

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  25. A lot of wisdom in that poem. Coffee and a chocolate with a friend, a walk on the beach, they don't cure the pain or solve the problems but at least they give you a bit of a reprieve. Sometimes that is all we can ask for. Today I managed to shake off my exhaustion and accompanying greyness to walk down to the beach and watch the waves crashing and the late afternoo sun lighting up the white horses out in the bay. A few moments of being present and feeling that quiet joy that comes from sea and wind. I should do it more often, particularly when I don't feel like it. I hope there are many more walks, chats with good friends etc to help you through this next phase of your life.

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