On Pulling Oneself Together

comments 28

One day I looked Hafiz straight in the eye
(his left if you must know)
(my right)
with the full faith and undeniable force
of forty beleaguered years of human existence
on this little planet of ours, which,
in case you hadn’t noticed,
is clearly going right down the same unsanitary tube
as the one that we now call an asteroid belt,
and I said half-jokingly,
“Tell me the first thing that comes to mind.”

He nodded. Very well.

“Your life,” he said, “is the grace
of a thousand pale suns
still young enough to touch
that you could plant in the soil
anywhere you like–

“including the dark coffin of space
beneath your back deck
where you’re afraid to crawl
lest a horde of spider webs
wrap themselves around your face
while ground-dwelling wasps
crawl utterly nonplussed across your naked skin
causing you to lurch uncontrollably
towards the light and bang your head
against a length of pressure-treated wood–

“where they (the nascent stars) would grow
into fiery gravity mongers yielding glorious worlds
filled with unimaginable representations
of your deepest love,
yielding all that you are
or could ever desire,

“that you keep in a little black bottle
stuffed with an old wooden cork
and wrapped in a shabby wool cloth
that you’ve hidden in a secret compartment
of the heel of your shoe
and completely forgotten even exists.

“Your life until now
has been a great making-do
without the one thing you most need.
And some days, I wish so badly you could see it
I nearly explode into light capable of
filling all of space from one end
to the other.”

I looked down at my beaten-to-hell
leather loafers, and I said to myself yes,
Hafiz you are a genius,
I really can’t go on like this.

Look how I’ve let myself go.

I really must get a new pair.


  1. oh, to be you, Michael,
    & to see it in the mirror,
    or as an instant replay,
    looking like that, hmmmm,
    needing a pair,
    but, at the same time
    to look like that,
    touching mastery 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you, David! I just knew I needed something! Ha! It is a joyous time when we step back and discover the innocence through which we’ve been wandering…


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Michael. I so needed to hear Hafiz’ voice. These last few days, sky caving in, I’ve been blaming it on the moon. I’ve been blaming it on the past. Relieved to know it is all as simple as the shoes. Or the glasses. 🙂
    Wishing you some great Christmas special on shoes!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Kristina,

      I am sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time and hope you’re feeling better soon. Hafiz is a good friend in a pinch like that. 🙂 It’s seldom as complicated as we once thought, though, this is true. Just the right adjustment to our perspective and everything shifts. Wishing you a moment of grace to go along with a beautiful holiday season with your family.

      Peace and Love

      Liked by 2 people

    • True, Val. And plus you never know where one moment of listening might lead! May we each receive the grace of the unexpected this year!


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Very secret agent of amazingness Michael with the shoes,but in the cold, moon boots would hold lots of secret things too….in this cold you must not worry about the spiders….they’re cocooned in and the wasps cannot get out of the snow, nor do they want to…..I would think Hafiz would have mentioned that….so good to hear him again…..I am thinking sometimes he has become lodged into my elf on the whatever…..he keeps turning up where least expected and always makes me smile….another piece of excellence💕🙏🏻😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Kim,

      Sometimes are fears are profoundly unwarranted, aren’t they? Yes the spiders and the wasps should be snoozing happily. Down in the warm ground hopefully. The moon boots definitely have additional storage capacity, but since the stuff we’re made of is dimensionless, I’m not sure it matters as much as we are accustomed to think!

      Thanks for the kind words and hope you have a blessed holiday season, Kim!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This must be one of my favourites of all time Michael. Such a beautiful reminder, that each of us needs over and over apparently. Grace. It’s everything. And nothing.
    This poem reminds me of one of my most significant teachers, Seth:

    “You were born into a state of grace, therefore. It is impossible for you to leave it. You will die in a state of grace whether or not special words are spoken for you, or water or oil is poured upon your head. You share this blessing with the animals and all other living things. You cannot “fall out of” grace, nor can it be taken from you.”

    much love, and merry merry for the winter solstice/holiday season.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you, Alison. I love that quote! I think it is a blessing we share with all creation and it is so easily forgotten! And it is true at times we want the special words and the holy water and the incantations. What I love about this is that it speaks to the heart of the matter–which is that regardless of the form, it is the content that matters. And the content alive within and as us, is something we can never lose…

      Much love to you and Don as well, and hope you had a nice solstice, and enjoy the remainder of this holiday season.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. How ubiquitously true and well-observed your humorous punchline is, Michael. The number of times I’ve heard wise things only for them to drift in and out of my head like so much more flotsam, and only many years later to realise their true worth and relevance. Ah, well, I guess there’s the intellect, and then there’s understanding.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, there is the intellect and then there is understanding. Well said. It’s quite an intriguing difference isn’t it? When we deeply understand these matters they seem to come to life within us, when as concepts they are flat somehow. Though it’s hard to know it at the time. We’re always trying to live the fullest version of wisdom that we can, and it’s only through the raw experiences we have that we learn what this or that really mean…

      Hope you have a happy holiday, Hariod.
      All my best–

      Liked by 3 people

        • Good one, Hariod! Enjoyed that as well. I’m looking forward to getting started on my first McEwan in the very near future. I was sidetracked by a couple gifts of holiday prose that have been greatly enjoyed. One was the The Best American Short Stories — 2016 and in reading it I can see McEwan’s thoughts on tradecraft echoed quite nicely. It has me wondering if there is an equivalent annual collection of British authors? It would be really interesting to read a collection and see how they differ from the American collection.

          Love and best wishes to you as well. Have a great New Year!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda! I will look forward to connecting with you on that in the near future. Meanwhile wishing you a beautiful and blessed holiday season as well!

      With Gratitude!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Michael, sitting here going hmmmm. A wonderful piece of writing i found to be cryptic and perhaps a bit self-deprecating (on a lighter note, I still remember the time I said self-defecating instead by accident in a conversation – maybe they are synonyms). Life is pain and life is pleasure. I suppose we really can’t have one without the other and it is hard to live a genuine life without doubting oneself. For me, you captured that moment of self-doubt, and I have faith and trust in you that you will find yourself a pair of comfortable if not dapper pair of new shoes. You deserve to give a present to yourself, your writing is a gift to many.
    Chin up.
    Hugs, Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Harlon,

      Sitting here relaxing and enjoying this moment of connection. I think much of my writing has an element of self-deprecation in it, and much of my humor as well. Doubt has a way of coming and going for sure, but I’m grateful that lately it has largely been in the form of a distant family member who stops by en route to somewhere else, and has little to say… 🙂 Sometimes there are two selves rattling around within arm’s reach it seems–one who is bound by the parameters of this life that none can escape, and another who surfs across the waves of the mundane, never quite touching down. It is when we discover we are the merger of this pair that we truly come alive I think!

      Best wishes for the New Year, my friend!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Ah, Michael, another beautiful piece. I love this one. Well, of course, I love them all. Thank you for gifting us with this one. Every image is brilliant and heart felt. I especially liked, “glorious worlds
    filled with unimaginable representations of your deepest love, yielding all that you are or could ever desire.” And of course I laughed at the image of you underneath the back deck fearing spiders and wasps. And the loafers.
    Yes, Hafiz is a genius and he knows you so well. I always love how your wisdom is shared with such delight and grace.
    Happy New Year, Michael.
    Much love,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mary! Happy New Year to you as well. Hafiz does have a way of bringing things out–all in good fun! Loafers makes me think of my junior year in high school. We had just moved from an old school building downtown to a new one in a slightly more suburban area. It was the Catholic high school in Birmingham, AL, and it was the year I took physics. In the period I had physics we had to send someone to the office with attendance, to confirm everyone who showed up in the morning actually stayed the whole day or something. Our teacher was a little dissatisfied with how long it took us to walk to the office and back because it was on the other end of the building, so myself and another student starting timing ourselves, sprinting as fast as we could down the halls, getting glared at by other teachers in millisecond interludes. But it was tough to hold the corners in our quasi-dress shoes… You really had to take the right line through the corners to beat the record. 🙂

      Peace, Love and Happy New Year!


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