The Limits of Sight
On the table, the candle is spent.
the book is closed.
The season of history is done,
the lessons examined,
as you prepare to launch again
into the ocean.
The telescope sits on the table
You know now how little the brass instrument shows,
the limit of its sight,
how it narrows the horizon
as it searches for a future
that is all around you.
About this poem.
I am getting married soon. That is no secret to my readers. When you choose to get married a second time, there is a lot more reflection than the first time. You (or at least I) spend more time looking back, examining yourself, at the lessons learned, at your threshold for risk and fear, at the promise the new relationship holds out. I am not saying it cannot have the same heady rush of young love. It can. But honesty demands you look deeply into yourself.
And there is a temptation to look far ahead too. Like a sailor uses a telescope, you gaze into places beyond your sight, hoping to see what is ahead.
But if life has taught me anything, it is that you cannot gaze well into the future. The future is built on nows. As Emily DIckenson wrote:
Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –
From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –
Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –
And you cannot see those changes.
The woman I love and I have both changed a great deal in the almost three years since we met. To have projected a future together based on the people who met in a coffee shop one summers day nearly three years ago, would have been foolish. But there was some essence that connected us, and connects us still, through a myriad of change.
I could spend a lot of time trying to predict what our life together will be like. I could try to use some sort of cosmic telescope and the historical lessons of my own life to make the journey ahead predictable.
No. What works, I believe, is less a mapping out of life, and more a trusting of the essence of people. That allows the full horizon of possibilities, not just the narrow view of a telescope. We can change and meld and grow and live in a broader context far better in the now, than in some narrow projection.
I may be wrong. I often am. Perhaps I have learned the wrong lessons in my life and choices so far. But I rarely make the same mistake twice any longer. And I have learned I I can survive making new ones.
My son recently wrote of the woman I love and I that she and I make each other better. I believe he is right. And that is the horizon. How we will continue to do that, and where it will lead us, what changes that will entail, neither of us know. But that is the essence, and to examine any part of it too closely is to miss that horizon.
No, I am done with the telescope. I am done with the re-reading of my own history. Those things have value, but it is time to stand at the shore and launch, trusting the essence as I sail into new seas.
PS – Sorry for the length of this. It was supposed to be short.
PSS – For the Disney fans among you, the picture was taken at Disney World, in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.