The ground is trembling beneath me as I write, still. It turns out that the world, or at least Nairobi, is divided into two kinds of people: those who feel tremors, and those who do not. (Three days of tremors now, several times a day). Birds rise squawking up into the trees. I'm told the horses and cows out in Karen are jittery. There are media rumors that the US Embassy is going to order an evacuation, but that's absurd (confirmed by an email from the embassy this morning). It's more fun than anything, like surfing the bedroom, or the desk you're sitting at. The tremors start like a nervous stomach. Within a moment you realize it's not within your soul, but beyond. You feel it in your heart, and it pertains to everything. The girl's pink chandelier tinkles, a picture falls from the shelf. The baby raises his arms to be picked up, confused. It lasts about 30 seconds. It is the most bizarre feeling. The only thing to do is relinquish any illusions of control---and ride the wave. (Regardless, despite it all being fine and fun, I admit I'll be relieved when our flight lifts off the ground this evening.)
It's in the imagination with which you perceive this world, and the gestures with which you honor it, writes Mary Oliver in a poem, "The Swan" (from Winter Hours). This is one way to live. It was a nothing month, when I started writing this project, when I committed to 27 Etudes and Short Talks. It was, on the surface, a housewife driving children to school in a Suburu month. It was roasting chicken on Monday, it was linens on Thursday, it was walking the children to sleep in a stroller when the afternoons were warm enough. It was a neighborhood parent meeting, a news report from town, a yoga class, a memory, a line from a poem, a power cut, a night away with M., and several lovely dinner parties with friends. It was a nothing month, really. But what a privilege---to take a moment every day to stop, and reflect, and think: how infinite life is, how simply beautiful. Perceive this world, and, with your each gesture, honor it.
And so I leave you for now (I'll be writing, though less often, while traveling until September) with a second Mary Oliver poem, also entitled "The Swan"---
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning rising into the silvery air---
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings: a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?