Good Things #8: Willing to be Dazzled

[I wrote this post as part of the Love Yourself link-up started by my friend, Anne. It goes beyond loving yourself – it starts by allowing things to dazzle you, and then, maybe, you will dazzle yourself.]

I am sitting at a round wooden picnic table. The sun is blaring hot and it isn’t even 9:00 in the morning. The beach is quiet today after a people-packed weekend – there isn’t a single person on the sand.

For my beach read this summer, I packed Bridget Jones’s Diary. I’ve never read it before, even though I’ve seen the movie, and I thought it was a pretty light book for the ocean. Poor Bridget. I sometimes see myself in her, but most of the time I just wonder: What were you thinking?!

I also brought along some Mary Oliver. My first impression of her was not so grand; nature poets don’t hold my attention as much as they should, perhaps. But every now and then I come across a gem, a piece of honest beauty.

Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled –

to cast aside the weight of facts

 

and maybe even

to float a little

above this difficult world.

I want to believe I am looking

 

into the white fire of a great mystery.

– The Ponds

This hit me in a gentle strong way. Maybe I can’t help having moments of darkness, but perhaps they are made darker by my unwillingness to be dazzled. Maybe it is this small, simple thing that makes life sharp and pulsing.

Maybe it’s this willingness that sets people apart.

The sun is hot as blazes on my right arm. I’m already sweating. But the sea is sparkling in the light, the grasses on the dunes are waving in the breeze, and there is a calmness to the air that settles me.

Shift your focus and you see differently.

The thing is, not everyone can do that. Or at least, not without help. There have been times when I’ve looked at something straight on, I have known that it is beautiful and good, but I’ve not been able to see it. I’ve known but not experienced. I’ve touched but not tasted.

A lot changes when, for a few months, you think maybe your life will never be the same. Maybe, in fact, it’s almost over. You know you are dramatic, but you also know that no one is above dying.

And later, a year later, you are digging a hole in your garden, in which you will sink a spidery rosemary plant, and you look at your arms and marvel at their strength, at even the swinging motion it takes to dig.

One day, you are driving, and you look at your hand on the steering wheel and think, This is my hand. It is no one else’s. And that is shocking to you.

You see, for the first time, really, the sharpness of green grass against blue sky, and you wonder how you looked at the same landscape for the past twenty years but never really saw.

It is perhaps the first time in your life you can honestly say:

I have rejoiced in my suffering. I have praised God for my discomfort. I have been made weak that His strength would show.

That is how I am willing to be dazzled.

8 thoughts on “Good Things #8: Willing to be Dazzled

  1. suzanne

    And I, on the other hand, will probably be one who loves Mary Oliver; but I am thwarted each time I look on the bookstore shelves and therefore own neither hers nor Rilke’s poetry.

    The willingness to wonderment. I think it’s related to faith, too, but I’m not quite sure how.

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      That’s pretty much the conclusion I came to – I just can’t quite piece the two together yet.

      Shall I give you some Oliver or Rilke? Hmmm???

      Reply
  2. Lauren Tien

    this is so insightful. it makes me wonder, am i willing to be dazzled? what sets me apart? how do i navigate through the darkness and the suffering? i think this is something that we need to be in check with ourselves a lot more often. again, such great thoughts, catherine!

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      Yes – Mary Oliver made “being dazzled” part of my consciousness, and now I’m hoping to be more aware of it from now on. Thanks for stopping by, Lauren!

      Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      Don’t you love when other people’s art inspires your own? Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Beach Week [in images] | neither here nor there

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