Monday, April 28, 2014

Word of the Week - 8

“Let us remember...that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.”
Christian Wiman

Word of the Week:  INHABIT

The word, read this morning in Maria Popova's Brain Pickings article about Alan Watts and the antidote for anxiety, suggested to me aspects of comfort and ease, shoes off, shoulders relaxed, what my son calls "chilling," being at home, being home.
Artist Kate Pugsley's woman, I believe, inhabits that coat as I once did a cardigan.
To inhabit our own lives, not sit like visitors on the edge of the sofa but sprawl, widen our understanding of ourselves, spread like water into every corner, dark or gleaming, is how presence begins.  To inhabit is to spend time without squirming inside our own skin, in our own company, with our own thoughts.  The painting above and the word reminded me of being 17-18 years old, the degree to which I was lost and estranged and without hope only slightly diminished by recklessness and excess, yet I had a black cardigan in which I could simply be.  It was long enough to reach the middle of my thighs, had deep pockets and an abundance that wrapped me up, sealed in as the woman appears to be in her fur coat.  I was a walking blanket fort, undetectable, temporarily at peace, able to be in the world, an inhabitant.

Being present requires inhabiting the moment.  I can't even bear the phrase multi-tasking, let alone the practice of it.  Distracted and divided, how do we inhabit, for which we need the whole of us and not fragments, parts that can be spared from what seems more important.  I know a number of friends with whom I talk on the phone are otherwise engaged while we converse.  I don't take it personally, it is the way of things.  But without being here, how do we claim the territory of our lives?  Like homesteaders, we have to be on the land to call it ours.  I will think further about the dimensions of inhabiting, the ways in which it demands a wholeness, an entirety, an awareness focused only on now.

The scope of the Brain Pickings article is much broader than this week's word, though they share the same road.  I love being in a world where wisdom lingers behind a headline, behind the columns in the parking garage, waiting to entice me with its eternal shiny newness, adjusting my perception.



T. said...

I love the picture you paint here of a younger you, fully inhabiting that cardigan!

I recall a similar cardigan, white, worn, buttons down the front and a white grosgrain ribbon down the button plaquet, that accompanied me through my college years, especially late at night in winter, chilled, as I pecked out poems on my Smith-Corona. I went nowhere in that sweater but my bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom. It was drab and pilled, and it was the greatest comfort I had those lonely years.

Marylinn Kelly said...

T. - Thank you. When they sent me home from the hospital with my newborn son, the nurse explained why they wrapped the babies up so tight in their little blankets, how emerging from the safe, small confines of the womb they felt as though they were in free-fall out in the world unless their limbs were held close to their bodies. It may have been something like that, a world too unsafe at that time as you seem to understand well. Our second, more protective skin, our armor. So nice to see you here. I have been AWOL pretty much everywhere. xo