Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Provincetown / 2

I've thought how to explain what the Provincetown Residency means to me. My ideas for how to express it seemed too shallow. Today, my eyes fell upon a Theodore Roethke poem. My good friend Roethke will help me to explain. His poem, "The Right Thing" speaks my inner thoughts today:

The Right Thing
by Theodore Roethke

Let others prove the mystery if they can.
Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will--
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Yes, I have been that prisoner of "Shall" and "Will." I have let my brain be torn apart by fear and doubt. I have had a preconceived idea about what is "the right thing" for me. I have tried to second-guess life. This year when I filled out the application for the residency, I just told the truth and let the chips fall where they may. I wasn't nervous or afraid or lacking in confidence. I was calm and peaceful and confident. When I chose my writing sample, I didn't second-guess. I sent a recent story that is simple and true. In short, I was happy. The Provincetown Residency will be the vehicle for helping me to live in that place for an extended period of time. I won't find it and then be jerked out of it by obligations or other realities.

The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
Let others delve that mystery if they can.

I try too hard. Obligations take me out of my soul. The bird flies back to my soul. It is a rending, a tearing. Sometimes I think it will make me mad. One day I'm on a hill, confident, exuberant; then right behind that is the valley, doubts and darkness. But what if the hill and the valley were the same? What if there is no right or wrong; it is the same thing? It is all "right" if we accept that it is right, feel that.

As Yoda said, there is no try, only do. In that moment of doing, all is right.

God bless the roots!--Body and soul are one!
The small become the great, the great the small;
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Perfect balance.

Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
His being single, and that being all:
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Perfect balance.

Or he sits still, a solid figure when
The self-destructive shake the common wall;
Takes to himself what mystery he can,

Put the currency of the soul in the bank, so when you feel ready to give in to doubt and fear, you can plumb the mystery again of perfect balance.

And praising change as the slow night comes on,
Wills what he would, surrendering his will
Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Acceptance. Complete acceptance. Pure acceptance. Whether the slow night is doubt and fear or the passing of time towards mortality, you do your best. Make changes where you can, surrender you will when you cannot. It is not a mystery; just be. Find that true place. Live from there. Then you are happy. Everything, no matter what, is the right thing.

The Provincetown Residency will take me on this voyage, into the true place where everything is the right thing. What a gift.

1 comment:

Erin said...

This is beautiful, Theresa. Thank you for sharing your journey to this place.

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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