They had set themselves an impossible task. They were doomed from the start.
There was no way out
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First there is this from Robert Bly:
Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.
Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.
When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
"Things to Think" by Robert Bly from Eating the Honey of Words. © Harper Collins, 1999.
And there is this personal postscript:
Sometimes I think I think too much. Some thoughts puzzle me, and some thoughts disturb me.
But this poem, with its lovely lyricism, especially the last line, reminds me of a haunting prayer and an unpleasant memory: "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Honestly, I prefer Robert Bly's poem to my childhood prayer. That nighttime ritual of prayer taught me that death was my constant companion. And I think that is a terrible companion for a small child. Shame on my parents for encumbering me with that terror. Perhaps I am being too harsh on them. They thought they were doing the right thing. In any case, death, thanks to many factors, is still a difficult companion for me as an adult.
Now, though, as I think more about Bly's poem, trying to step away from my childhood prayer, I wonder what you think. Yes, let's talk about thinking.