I could not prove the Years had feet
Last week I discovered this delightful poem by Emily Dickinson. She was about 32 years old when she wrote it. It’s full of wisdom and a touch of self-directed humor.
I could not prove the Years had feet –
Yet confident they run
Am I, from symptoms that are past
And Series that are done –
I find my feet have further Goals –
I smile upon the Aims
That felt so ample – Yesterday –
Today’s – have vaster claims –
I do not doubt the self I was
Was competent to me –
But something awkward in the fit –
Proves that – outgrown – I see –
Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995
As usual, Emily speaks her truth indirectly with abrupt, even maddening pauses, and omitted words. I’m left wondering many things. Her poem, like her life, is cloaked in mystery and leaves me wanting more detail.
Yet without trying to do so, Emily invites me to reframe my life. To consider where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go.
When I was a child my great big goal was to learn to play the piano. If I could just do that, I would be content and ecstatically happy. Or so it seemed back then.
In fact, my life has been shaped by a series of goals that promised a kind of heaven on earth. For example, playing the piano, going to college, having a real boyfriend who really loved me, getting married, having children, going to seminary, teaching in a seminary. Possibilities I never dreamed would come my way.
Though I haven’t outgrown who I am today, I don’t have any great big goals. Or do I?
When I listen to my heart, it tells me to keep pushing the envelope of what feels comfortable to me. I know this feeling—a combination of excitement, dread and anticipation.
I even made a list of things that will keep pushing the envelope. Promise you won’t laugh!
- Pick up the phone and call someone
- Knock on a door and say hello
- Send a card or note
- Write poetry and share it
You get the picture. Little things.
They may or may not mean much to other people. But that’s not the goal. This is about practicing small behaviors I’ve often found intimidating. In a way, my goal is to pretend I’m an extro/introvert! Oriented outward as well as inward. Though in my introverted way, of course.
Is this possible? Why not? It feels like a good fit. Besides, it’s way better than setting another lofty goal I don’t need anymore. I need clothes that fit me now. Outfits that allow me to follow my heart, build on personal work I’ve already done, be my own boss (sort of), and maybe even surprise myself every now and then.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 March 2016
Photo from the fashionfoot.com