Friday, July 18, 2008

The Gospel According to Tennyson

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

I put this quote from Tennyson's "Ulysses" on my family site. There aren't a lot of critics looking Tennyson or at the old thrice-named "Fireside Poets" these days, and I'm inclined to believe it is because of the influence of some of the post-modern critics. They've sucked the cool right out of celebrating the human spirit. It's better, they say, to try to find some meaning in the unintelligible. And no one has taken the time (the risk?) to say that makes not one damn bit of sense. But, and herein lies the proverbial rub, human beings haven't moved past the era of needing to celebrate the noble aspects of their character. I know that I haven't, and that's why I relish this quote almost as if it were scripture.

These days, I feel my strength diminished by the events of my life. I'm not who I was in this picture. I'll never be that person again. To be honest, that used to scare me. It used to scare me a lot, actually. But then I started taking inventory of my life and realizing that in my early 20's, I made decisions with an aim to keep my options open. I didn't want to do anything that might keep me from doing something else. And then, I got married and in one day closed down many of my long-cherished (but little used) life options. I realized after a while doing so allowed me to focus on a profoundly meaningful and rich relationship with my husband. We both sacrificed freedom to be with each other for the rest of our lives. We're not so broad in our acquaintances anymore, but we run deep. And that's a good thing. Take that same principle, ratchet up the ante about 100 percent, then add it to the concept of making a see where I'm going with that. I have (maybe) three things in my life that are important to me these days and I don't have time for much else. What I lack in variety I more than make up for in richness. And that, I believe, is what your 30's are about.

So that's why I love this quote. I'm over needing the glory. I'm beaten and broken and tired and older. But I'm brave. And I'm not finished here yet.


Elisa M said...

you ARE brave. and wonderful.

Suzanne and Chris Jones said...

friend, i have GOT to see that baby and bring you dinner. email me and give me a good night for y'all. i am here all week. we missed you at ctk this morning. can't wait to meet carrie-berrie.

Yodame said...

You are very eloquent. From my memories of your parents, you come from strong stock. Hang in there. It's all worth it.

Elisa M said...

Yeah! you put the photo on your blog. It really is SO great and expressive of who you are. Love it

Clint Wells said...

Wow, what beautiful writing about marriage. I hope our 30's are as hopeful as yours.