One of my favorite book titles of all time is Anne Sexton's "The Awful Rowing Towards God."
Five words that equal life.
I don't see it as a sentiment filled with despair, although she may have, when she wrote it. I also don't see it as a religious statement, although, again, she may have when she wrote it. I see it as an acceptance, a picture of reality, a view of life that says it is what it is, we are all heading in the same direction, we are all in the same boat.
Every day brings us one step closer. To something. We all have our own version of what that is. But every day also brings us closer to life. Every day is a new chance to breathe in everything that is wonderful and beautiful and immeasurable about being alive.
When I was young, I saw Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton as heroines of sorts, their poetry astounded me, it astounds me still. I devoured their books and their words and their raw emotion, and for a while I thought I saw a reflection of myself in that angst-filled lake, I thought that was where you had to be to write like that.
I'm older now, just a little wiser. and these days I'd rather peer into waters less murky. I'd like to reach my destination on my own terms, by looking up from the depths at all there is around me. There is always something to be grateful for, some tiny gem of truth and beauty that makes it worth the time and energy it takes to find it. I'd rather write my way through life, not away from it. I'd rather hold on to what moors me: hope.
Poetry can come from many places, not all of them dark and despairing. Sadness can make for beautiful prose. And so can joy. Neither one is better or more powerful or more real than the other. It is all just part of the journey.
I am still learning, discovering, growing. My own kind of rowing.
I have a boat. A life jacket. Oars. And I know where to find an ocean. At some point, I will have to get my feet wet.
And at some point after that,
I will have to step out of the water.