Friday, October 29, 2010

friday poem

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Reading a friend's blog, I was reminded of this poem - something I read first the best part of thirty years ago, when I learned it for O Level. It's by Catullus, and in case your Latin is a little rusty, here's my (slightly free) translation for you:

I hate & I love. I know what you're thinking - Why do I let this happen to me?
I have no idea. But I feel it to be so, and it tears me apart.

Two lines that work their simple magic over the depths of the human heart. Emotions are dynamic, volatile, wonderful and violent forces, friends and foes, powers we deftly control and by which we are ruthlessly enslaved. We want to break free and cannot; we want to revel and relax unfettered - and cannot. Love and hate walk too closely together sometimes; for comfort's sake we want one to cross to the other side. But comfort is the goal of our emotional risk taking, not the guarantee.

We love because we are human. To not love, to be an island entire of ourselves is safer - but less than the imperfect perfection for which we are so brittly made.

There are days we are torn apart. And days we are healed. And days we are held gloriously and days we hold another, and days we understand and days we have no idea -

But not to have these questions, not to face them, not to feel them, not to struggle with them, not to begin to live a life that has the possibility of them - this is to accept life that is less than life, to number ourselves amongst the defeated, to become amongst the casualties of humanity that consign themselves to stand and watch real life being played out on playing fields and TV screens by others more worthy and more lovely. Such thoughts need to be swiftly dispatched.

Pain is not pleasure; but it is not the end, and not understanding is not failure. Victory has many faces; sometimes it wears a crown; sometimes it comes in the feeling torn apart and yet walking on, doggedly trusting that in the flip coin of hate and love and the maelstrom of having no idea, today is not the whole world. A friend of mine posted a YouTube clip on their FaceBook page of a Texas politician speaking about teen suicides, wanting young people to know "it gets better". Those are words not just young people need to hear.

God is bigger, and he is for us. At some point, though human hands we have cherished may turn against us, it is true, his hand will take hold once more and a wintry soul may yet again find spring.

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