“Get up cheerfully on days you have to work, if you can. And if you can’t, what keeps you from doing so? Is there something heavy that blocks the way? What do you have against heaviness and difficulty? That it can kill you. So it is powerful and strong. This much you know about it. And what do you know about things that are light and easy? Nothing. We have no memory whatsoever of that which was light and easy. So even if you could choose, ought you not to actually choose what is difficult? Don’t you feel how it is related to you?…And are you not in agreement with nature when you make this choice? Don’t you think a little sapling would have an easier time by staying in the soil? Things that are light and things that are heavy don’t actually exist. Life itself is heavy and difficult. And you do actually want to live? Then you are mistaken in calling it your duty to take on difficulties. It’s your survival instinct that pushes you to do it. So what is duty then? It is duty to love what is difficult…You have to be there when it needs you.”—Rilke
“Prominent on our list of fascinating reading materials are the two full pages of obituaries regularly appearing in The Salt Lake Tribune. Of curious interest, for instance, is the top ranking among survivors often accorded a long-lived family dog. And somewhat startling is the revelation that, of the thirty-two or so of recently deceased therein featured, no more than two or three will actually have died. Many people obviously are squeamish about using that honest verb. Ten or twelve of our former citizens, it would appear, will merely have “passed away” – some “peacefully,” a few “suddenly,” and one or two “of causes incidental to age.” Four or five departees will have “returned to his/her Heavenly Father.”
The occasional obituary declaration that he/she has “gone to a better place” somehow strikes me as insulting to the surviving family. When it comes my turn to be featured on the obit pages, I hope that no one will claim that I have “gone to a better place.” In the warm hearts and arms of a loving family, I’m already in the best place.”—William Clayton Nutting, 2007
I held myself too open, I forgot that outside not just things exist and animals fully at ease in themselves, whose eyes reach from their lives’ roundedness no differently than portraits do from frames; forgot that I with all I did incessantly crammed looks into myself: looks, opinion, curiosity. Who knows: perhaps eyes form in space and look on everywhere. Ah, only plunged toward you does my face cease being on display, grows into you and twines on darkly, endlessly, into your sheltered heart.
As one puts a handkerchief before pent-in breath— no: as one presses it against a wound out of which the whole of life, in a single gush, wants to scream, I held you to me: I saw you turn red from me. How could anyone express what took place between us? We made up for everything there was never time for. I matured strangely in every impulse of unperformed youth, and you, love, somehow had wildest childhood over my heart.
Memory won’t suffice here: from those moments there must be layers of pure existence on my being’s floor, a precipitate from that immensely overfilled solution. For I don’t think back; all that I am stirs me because of you. I don’t invent you at sadly cooled-off places from which you’ve gone away; even your not being there is warm with you and more real and more than a privation. Longing leads out too often into vagueness. Why should I cast myself, when, for all I know, your influence falls on me, gently, like moonlight on a window seat.