Having successfully completed our 30 Day Shred, Amanda and I have moved onto, and very quickly grown tired of, Jillian Michael’s yoga. There is no danger of new age spiritual meditation when yoga-ing with Jillian, who yells only slightly less than she did when she was shredding us. I have to be frank: we are terrible at yoga. I simply cannot hold myself in those positions without laughing at Amanda who looks equally ridiculous beside me. We found that we were replacing every move we didn’t like with our own yoga moves, christened Dead Dog, Beached Whale, and Prostrate Prayer Stance. We did like sun salutations, and our new work out strategy consists in us reveling in this long awaited Kentucky spring by walking in the nearby park and giving sun salutations to every patch of daffodils we pass.
But the real reason for our workouts is that we just like to talk, and our favorite subject is the brokenness of language, the inability of today’s world to express what we mean. I see it in the emails and texts (yes, texts) I get from my students, in the loss of eloquence from our world leaders, in the stark prose of modern writers. Today at lunch my father astutely noted that today we like to claim that there are “no words to express what we are feeling.” Shakespeare, he argued would have found words to express them. We just fall short of the task.
But maybe there is a different sort of beauty in brokenness. The past hundred years didn’t produce Shakespeares, or Miltons, or Spensers. But then I read poets like e.e. cummings, whose works turn the shards of language into a perfect mosaics. I leave you with one such poem.
“being to timelessness as it’s to time”
being to timelessness as it’s to time,
love did no more begin than love will end:
where nothing is to breathe to stroll to swim
love is the air the ocean and the land
(do lovers suffer? all divinities
proudly descending put on deathful flesh:
are lovers glad? only their smallest joy’s
a universe emerging from a wish)
love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear:
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star
- -do lovers love? why then to heaven with hell.
whatever sages say and fools, all’s well.