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Traveling at the speed of life

I read a poem this week by Jane Hirshfield called Jasmine. Here’s how it goes –


“Almost the twenty-first century”---

how quickly the thought will grow dated,

even quaint.


Our hopes, our future, 

will pass like the hopes and futures of others.


And all our anxieties and terrors,

nights of sleeplessness,


will appear then as they truly are---


Stumbling, delirious bees in the tea scent of jasmine.


In 10 short lines, Ms. Hirschfield embraces us all with a profound understanding of our common experience. Whether you are or you are not among those who recall the collective, world-wide response to the change of the centuries, ranging from disregard to discomfort to distress, matters little. In either case, the thought is, indeed, almost quaint now that it’s 2024, where we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of this first century of the third millennium.

This is what is true: Our hopes will pass. Mine will pass just like yours will. Our angst will pass. Yours will pass just like mine. Hopes, wishes, anxiety, grief, worry – all feelings truly are like delirious bees following the scent of a flower. This is not meaningless or dismissive of your feelings, however. In fact, I find it a clear-eyed affirmation of our humanity. That is to say, we do what we are made to do whether it is 2000 BCE or 2024 CE. 

We exult. We fret. We hope. We despair. We laugh and cry. Sometimes we ask, “Will I ever feel differently?” and other times, we pray “Let me feel this way forever.” One is not better than the other; moreover, time can feel attenuated or contracted depending on what you are feeling. Whether you (think you) are running last, stumbling along or running in the lead, may you enthusiastically embrace your humanity always and live every one of your days to the fullest -- and at your speed.


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