These past few days I’ve had trouble engaging with the world. I find that the bleak, incessant reel of news that clouds my screens hurts more than it informs. And I, alone in this bedroom that doubles as my workspace, am powerless to do much of anything.
Really, I don’t think we, as humans, are built to deal with tragedy on this scale. We are not equipped to process this level of random, unearned suffering.
At some point it becomes necessary to disengage, if only to protect our hearts from the stress of such cumulative negativity.
In these times, I turn to poetry. Maybe that seems strange. After all, we encounter it so little these days. An occasional inscription on a park statue, sometimes a snippet on a wedding invite, a worn quote on a gravestone. But I think we’ve largely forgotten the power of these spoken words to teach us about how to deal with our frail humanity in the everyday. To help ease, as Wendell Berry describes it, our “despair for the world.”
In this, my favorite of his works, “The Peace of Wild Things,” he goes on to describe his method for dealing with this existential gloom:
“I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water…”
And it is this line that blooms in my heart. Because what is it to rest in your beauty? To relax into your nature? To do as you were built to do? As only you can do? To just be yourself, completely unselfconsciously?
After all, the wood drake does not question what it means to be the wood drake. He doesn’t mull over whether his actions make him good or evil. He has no doubt regarding his right to be on the water. Or to rest as he needs. He just…is. And in just being, he is the embodiment of beauty.
So when I suffer my despair for the world, I follow Berry’s example and lie down in the peace of the wild things. I become as the wood drake and relax into the talents that have been passed from my elders down through the generations into me, and find the beauty that is my own living being.
Legs crossed, crochet hook in hand, humming along to folk tunes with a calico cat and a pile of yarn at my feet, I, as Berry, “rest in the grace of the world” and build my peace.
Rest in your beauty, my friends.
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Want to hear Wendell Berry speak his master work? Listen to a recording here from the Murmurations Poetry Radio Project on the On Being blog.
This amigurumi dove was made freehand with a US F/3.75mm crochet hook and small amounts of Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. Interested in seeing more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @acassafrass or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/lascosaschiquitas