Saturday, November 04, 2006

A poem to live by

Once again, my father has made my day. It's funny to think about how much time can change perception, how scorn can change to respect, how family sacrifices proximity closeness for emotional closeness, and how spell check doesn't matter when you know how to spell. After a long day of work, and before another long day of work, I received this breath of fresh air in e-mail form. I'll share it with you and ask you to send it to someone that means something to you. I'm a sucker for the sappy stuff sometimes.

"How to Live" by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog. © Red Hen Press.
           "I don't know how to live."
                                                  –Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."

I'd only add the following -
Spill some blood, then donate blood and see which
feels better. Water your plants. Clean your room. Call
someone a jerk. Stop saying the word "um," it only slows
you down. Rant and rave about something. Write a letter.
Read a book and then give it away. Spend some time

in a boat. Get caught in a thunderstorm. Build a fire and watch
it go out. Play on the swings. Rearrange your furniture.
Drink some wine on a rooftop, or a mountaintop. Wear
Band-aids with little devil duck prints on them. Make up a word.
Walk to work. Lie to your boss, once. Laugh long and hard at life.

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