La Vita Mia

Wow. Seems like I’ve written about courage a lot in recent months. It’s been good; it’s helped me think, and I’ve been grateful for the insight of my readers and (often) moral support. ❀

But all that leaves me here without a lot left to say on the subject. I have always before been very lucky and had (sometimes desperate) necessity to propel me along. I’m good in a crisis. I find courage is a lot, uh, scarier, than necessity.


It requires choice. With necessity there’s no “Oh, fuck it,” option. With courage there is.

For me right now courage is exerting my will, mind, desires against a bearable status quo. It has required looking at the world differently, looking at myself differently. It’s luxurious, in a way, to have options. I can continue to walk with a limp, to be looked at with pity, to be unable to do things I love, to regard riding a stationary bicycle as a “sport,” OR I can have hip surgery. I can look at the life ahead of me and say, “Oh well, the best is behind me anyway,” or I can work toward — hope for — something else.

With necessity, you don’t have to look at anything except the consequence hanging in front of you if you don’t act. Now I have to look ahead and consider what I WANT and who I AM. Whoa.

Yeah, I know, poor me. πŸ˜€

Visiting Han-Tan: The Dancers at the Southern Pavilion

They sang to me and drummed, the boys of Yen and Chao
Lovely girls plucked the sounding string
Their painted cheeks shone like dazzling suns;
The dancers’ sleeves shook out like blossoming boughs.
Bringing her wine, I approached a handsome girl
And made her sing me songs of Han-tan.
Then lutes were played, and coiling away and away
The tune fell earthward, dropping from the grey clouds.
Where is the Prince of Chao, what has he left
But an old castle-moat where tadpoles breed?
Those three thousand knights that sat at his board
Is there one among them whose name is still known?
Let us make merry, get something in our own day
To set against the pity of ages still unborn.

Li-Bai (trans. Arthur Waley)

21 thoughts on “La Vita Mia

    • Just know that right now I’m wandering around in a glimmering world of abject terror. I’ve also realized it’s just how it is right now and it’s OK. A lot of things I’ve done in my life would have frightened other people, but did not frighten me. What is in my life now might not frighten other people, but it frightens me. But I think if we’re not a little scared, we’re maybe not going anywhere. I’m OK with it and really grateful for friends. ❀

  1. re your I’m a Writer, Yes, I am.
    A few–quite a few–years ago, when I was reopening the box of my talent, I joined a group of artists, writers, musicians to “share.” Most were pretty accomplished, great artists, journalists, poets, songwriters, guitar strummers, etc. But a few of us, myself included, came in with our self-effacement showing. One of the artists would have none of it. “We are writers, we are artists, or we are not” he asserted. “there is none of this if-I-. . . . no whens. You are.”

    It was refreshing.

    • The header photo on your blog looks so much like the mountains immediately to the west of me that I thought, “Whoa, does he live HERE?” (Hardly anyone does…)

      You hit the nail on the head here. Self-effacement is a defensive pose and that’s what I’m fighting. I didn’t have to fight it before, but now if there’s a future for me I have to stand much taller than I ever have.

      We never know
      How high we are
      ’til we are called to rise
      And then if we are true to form
      our statures reach the skies.

      The heroism we recite
      Would be a daily thing
      Did no ourselves the cubits warp
      For fear to be a king.

      Emily Dickenson

      • Montana is a lot like Colorado. Header of is out my back door, it’s a picture of a mountain in the Tobacco Root range west of me. I grew up knowing that mountain as the maker of storms, the holder of irrigation water.

        • My parents were Montanans. My dad was born in Missoula but grew up in Billings and Livingston, and my mom in Hardin. I grew up returning to Montana at least twice a year and that went on until 2008. “My” Montana mountains are the Beartooths, Pryors and Bighorns. The San Luis Valley in Colorado looks a LOT like Montana, complete with a big sky. OK, not AS big but it’s a passable second. The mountains by my town that look like yours are the Far East edge of the San Juans.

  2. Do you sing, Martha? I’m a very feely person and your piece today is giving me the feeling of Helen Reddy, ‘I Am Woman’. Also a bit of Austin Powers. He is quite uncertain under all that bravado. πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Martha,
    I liked this post just fine, but the real reason I’m writing here is that the post you put up just now isn’t working. It doesn’t show on your site, and on the Reader feed, I get a photo and nothing more, and comments not allowed.
    This may be your intent given the nature of the prompt, but it may not be what you had in mind, either.

    • I uploaded a photo from my phone. The interface is no longer allowing me to send a photo as a draft so it would not be published and I can (later) put them into a blog post. Anyway… the photo is going to be the photo for the blog post I’m attempting to write now. I do not know why WP changed that but it definitely complicates my life in a very minor and irrelevant way :p

  4. That poem at the end of your blog? Just incredible. Emily Dickenson wasn’t bad either.

    Think on this:

    I am a part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
    Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
    For ever and forever when I move.
    How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

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