On my New Year’s birthday, I read this poem by Ana Lisa de Jong that spoke to me, really spoke to me. For it’s been some year. Not just any old year. Not a typical year for anyone on the planet. You know what I mean.Maybe you too have suffered trauma, a disquieted soul, deep grief. A dark night. A dark and stormy night. I joked with my friend Meg yesterday about cliches and how, yes, it was the best of times and the worst of times. The worst of years for obvious reasons.
The best of years because God and I together moved this mountain – mountain-moving: a cliché I couldn’t outdo because of the magnitude of progress this old packrat made decluttering a whole monstrosity of a house, upstairs and down. The silver lining in confinement.
But back to grief and loss, and why Ana Lisa’s poem matters. It matters because she so eloquently expresses what we all know deep down. That the little things, things we often take for granted in our everyday existence, are infinitely the most important. And only through sorrow does this revelation arise. Here it is, Ana Lisa’s poem about letting go and holding on, words to ponder this new year, words that comforted me this side of my deepest grief.
I wish you better.
Whatever you didn’t get,
Whatever in this last year
you would hope to forget,
I wish you amnesia.
If not forever, just for the time it takes
to imagine, to place new hope
step by step.
And, whatever in this last year you did not receive,
or rather lost as something unable to be
kept in the hands -
I wish you better.
And if not better,
then a balm for your former pains.
A new view,
out through mist dissolving,
curtains drawn back to receive the sun.
Yes, I wish you that thing,
wish you whatever your heart,
if it could find a name,
would place its value on -
that illusive prize
which makes us hope in every new year’s
as though this year might
be the year we arrive at it.
And yet, I think it’s not until
when we look back,
we see how all along we owned it.
These treasures of the heart
And that it’s our losses,
the things that have strummed the heart’s strings,
that were the important things.
Which is why I don’t wish you
amnesia, at least not as much as I do
and wisdom to treasure,
and recognise again
what are the main things.
That we might not leave them
Living Tree Poetry
January 1, 2021
Art: Andrea Kowch
What little things have you come to recognize as infinitely the most important?