And then, this happened:
John William Waterhouse
Virgin with Roses
It has been quite a few years since I taught British Literature. I won't go into why, but it was, in short, an effort to create a more collegial atmosphere with a co-worker. It didn't work, and he didn't like teaching it either. So, I was asked if I wanted it back. Heck, yeah! I thought. This was my passion in undergraduate and graduate school. In fact, the day of the World Trade Center attacks, I was to meet with folks that afternoon to sell my little farm so that I could go to the University of York to complete my PhD (piled higher and deeper) in Medieval Literature and History. The Airman and I were going; I wasn't married, so it seemed like such a fine idea.
But, as we know, that didn't happen. The buyers were stock brokers; they ran as fast as they could to their bomb shelter, bought gold and bottled water, and dropped off the face of the real estate world. Ultimately, it all worked out; I have to believe that my life is how it is to be. The farm didn't sell; I met the Mister; married; and, all this time later, here I am, writing you!
This is a long way around to this: in preparing my lecture today, I remembered how I loved John William Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites as well as the Cavalier poets. And, how I adored John Milton. And William Blake. And all the Romantics.... And, well there you go. I thought of that and then how I missed graduate school where a group of us would sit up all night (me with tea; them with beer) and talk literature and ideas and such.... how we would drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watch the stars and talk about things that wouldn't make a hill of beans in most people's worlds, but was all ours --- at least right then. In short, I realized that I have lost much of my joy.
This hangs in my entry way:
The Lady of Shalot
John William Waterhouse
This is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name:
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Which lead me to think of these lines from Ulysses:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'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.
All this is the long way round to what I realized. Yes, time is fleeting (thanks Cavalier poets for that sweet reminder), but every day brings me closer to what I hope will be my reward. The things of this world are passing; most don't count for much of anything. This room of books in which I sit right now writing this, will turn to dust. The things I have worked and saved and spent so much on in my life will be nothing more than a memory for someone else. Perhaps I will be fortunate and someone will love my pretties as I love other's that I have collected in junk, thrift, and antique stores. However, the biggest thing, the greatest fingerprint I have, is that on other's lives and of living a useful life. Maybe, just maybe, one person will be better for knowing me. And, maybe, just maybe, they will touch just one person. Who knows?
In the meantime, I may still be blue, but it will pass. The sun will shine again. I will be happy again. And peace will find a nice little niche Right There in my heart.