Tag Archives: failure

Life lesson


You struck the keys,
but did not push or pull them;
you hit the beats,
but smudged the rests between them;
you sang the strains,
but feared to lift and soar them.

What surprised me the most
was learning the lesson
you did not mean to teach:
it’s better to flub some notes,
if you play them with a passion!

Thank you for reading Life Lesson. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is of Lyn’s family heirloom piano, a heavy beast of a brute that she loves. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Mercy me


Back-and-forth 
is pessimistic,
I prefer to-and-fro,
best foot forward first.

But damn me if it’s not become
who I am anyway—
the worst of all my willies
amid the wonder of it all:
the failure of intention
before the gasp of redemption.
There, I’ve said it: God save me!

I try to take nothing for granted. I try to remember that whatever I have, whatever I am, where I am, who I am with—these are all gifts, and that the best stance that I can take is the only truly perfect human stance there is, humility. Not that it is easy or that I often succeed. Still…

Thank you for reading Mercy me. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the largest of the Balearic Islands of Spain. The young man was a marvelous, gifted musician and the setting perfect. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Grown up


up
All cherub cheeks he was, too,
our lost little boy, the hero,
brave to try but broken to learn
that a button on a controller
was not a hip swing out on the slopes.
Can you remember it, son?
White, white snow beneath great green conifers
and the sky as blue as dreams, but softer;
the deep, deep air so full of ever and forever?

He’s gone now, you know.
Lost he was, out there, under an avalanche of words—
some true, most not—yet all of them excuses
that still echo down their cold, slippery trails.
It was, I suppose, failures in happanstance—
some simple, most not—but I find myself
wondering, just the same, how it would have
turned out had he stuck it out
and learned to snowboard that day.
Would any other dream have been softer?

up

Thank you for reading Grown up. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken of some poor hapless soul on a slope in New Hampshire just as he was wiping out, “having a garage sale” as the joke goes. (You wipe out so bad that all your equipment goes hither and yon and you can’t be bothered to go fetch it. Let anyone who makes an offer have it.) To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

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Soulfullness

IMG_0727The tiny of quantum holds us together,
while the huge of relativity pulls us apart.
The taut in-between is pure chaos,
and that surely is ours and ours alone,
‘I’ versus ‘us’—choose wisely.

From dawn’s touch to dusk’s demise,
tiny grows to huge as vivid turns to gloom
in the day/night mapping of each hope.
We are, at best, always on the tipping point,
drawn by strange attractors buried deep
in the bone and in our past and future.
And although they have pulled us together,
they have split us and broken us repeatedly,
until we can barely stand it,
and just when we need us the most.
They say, in balance, to ‘live in the moment,’
but to be honest, sometimes I think
we have enough just to live in the scale.
Choose wisely.

swril2

In the 20th century there were three great scientific breakthroughs that are both staggeringly profound and utterly beautiful: 1) the development of quantum mechanics, the study of the fundamental, subatomic particles that all creation is made of, 2) general relativity, Einstein’s geometric understanding of gravity in the space-time continuum, and, 3) chaos theory, the study of dynamic systems that are highly effected by initial conditions and which, while determined by those conditions, are yet not predictable over time.

The noteworthy point of these three theories is that the first deals with the infinitely small and the second with the infinitely large, scales of size which we can imagine but not experience. It is the third concept, chaos, that we can perceive and study on the human scale. We are surrounded by chaotic systems, the weather and the climate being the most obvious examples. But chaos hits even closer to home: chaotic driven processes build and operate our entire body, as indeed, they do for all nature. Chaotic systems seem random, but often are not; most tend to move toward centralized states referred to as ‘strange attractors.’

If you are as intrigued by this concept as I am, a very good book for the general public (no math needed) is Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick. I recommend it highly.

Anyway, back to the poem. As I was thinking of all this, I got to wondering how chaos could be conceived of in our emotional and spiritual lives…

Thank you for reading Soulfullness. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at a farm stand in Pennsylvania.To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh blog.

john

Photograph, notes and poem © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its copyright owner.

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I set out to write a book


IMG_1561

and placed my hero there at the start,
riding up a mountain on an old horse,
but paused, admiring the vista below—
it was just before the ambush was to hit.

And there I abandoned him, poor fool.
I had once had better plans for him,
but isn’t that always the case?
Hard done by he was to have been,
disgraced and bought to low esteem,
but being doughty and pure of purpose—
never casting it off for ease or self—
he would have endured through life and love
until his glorious self-sacrifice at the end.
He will never, I now know, make it to that end,
worse luck for him..his time has run out.
It seems I ambushed the coward after all.

up

Thank you for reading I set out to write a book. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken from the top of Barrett Hill in Pomfret, CT…one kick ass hill to cycle up, but worth the view once you get there. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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The phoenix

I awoke drenched and panting
with only the echoes to befriend me,
and prayed, despite my grieving,
that you were still the phoenix striving,
(burning, rising) your life—your faith—surviving.
Why can’t I love you as I ought?

I have talked about Sam, my dearest friend, before. We have now been friends since we first met in Egypt, thirty years ago and still, today, I love him more, appreciate him more and learn more from him each year that I know him.

Samandari (his last name) translates as “phoenix” and this poem is about the many nights I have woken up worrying about him. On these nights it often takes many prayers to calm me down and let me get back to sleep. If I do.

Thank you for reading The phoenix. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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