Spiritual joys come only from solitude / So the wise choose the bottom of the well / For the darkness down there beats / The darkness up here. / He who follows at the heels of the world / Never saves his head.
Do you want to be at the bottom or the top of the well? I must not be wise because I would have chosen the top for reasons of sanity. I know it up here, I am trapped down there.
But the point is well taken, up here I am either tempted or coerced to follow the world. So I choose to be in the well of my head and never leave home without it. This way I can be me, but not too much.
Tor House is the name Robinson and Una Jeffers gave the house they built in Carmel, California. Tor comes from the rocky points they saw when visiting Dartmoor, England. The home was important to his poetry. My house is important to my writing. There our similarities end.
He built his house. I live in mine. They built theirs with stone carved from the boulders of the coastline in Carmel. Someone built ours a long time ago and then more recently someone else put aluminum siding on it. I don’t even have to paint it and yet I feel ownership. Just by being present.
Robinson did all that work on his home and still had time to write. Very little of my home competes for my writing time. I think, “advantage Bob.” An advantage I have yet to capitalize on. Maybe I should build a shed or something.
In “On Art”, an essay by Edward O. Wilson in the anthology Biopoetics, Wilson writes, “I emphasize the expansive role of poetry to argue that whereas art and science are basically different in execution, they are convergent in what they might eventually disclose about human nature.”
How does that happen? Does it happen? What do they disclose about human nature?
Robinson Jeffers built a stone tower as part of his home in Carmel, California. Dr. Peter Quigley quotes scholar Theodore Ziolkowski as having said, “the tower was not the realization of an image long present in Jeffers’s poetry, just the opposite.”
The tower worked to produce the poetry.
Whatever our means of making poetry, how great it would be if all our homes “worked to produce” it. The home we have lived in for twenty years has done that for me. Most of that work was in my unconscious and is only now commuting to my conscious being. All of it has been a joy.
I once was taught that the mindset of following one’s dream is a good way to go broke. I know many close to me who would ask ( and not necessarily complimentary) when have I not followed my dream.
There is truth in this, but I kind of did it half heartedly. I think I looked for ways to have fun, but anything deeper was not a requirement. I dared not to dream. Not really.
I am fascinated with people who as part of their dream fought for a cause. My latest fascination continues to be Robinson Jeffers.
Dr. Peter Quigley in his book Housing the Environmental Imagination writes, “Five years after moving to Carmel, California in 1919, Jeffers bought 16 lots for $200 apiece, eventually owning 36 lots, none with a purchase price any higher than $3,000.” This over a ten year span.
Jeffers’s son Donnan reported that in 1977 these lots had a value of $200,000. We can only imagine what Jeffers’s dream is worth today. “Dreams, a good way to go broke.” Can I blame it on my mother?
Peter Quigley is his book Housing the Environmental Imagination doesn’t use the word crafting, but rather “fashioning.” Such a familiar word, but one I may have never used.
In The Oxford English Dictionary it offers, “Fashioning is to give shape to, to mold.”
Sounds like crafting to me, but that is not the point. The point is to consider how many of us get there? How many of us fashion a life that matter? Do even we even know when we have?
Quigley writes, “There is so much than conspires against getting it right. Like the crafting of a poem, one crafts a life alone.”
I guess Quigley got to that word crafting too.
He writes on, ” We do it against all odds, and we do it with the crushing likelihood that the project will evaporate, the profile will be blotted out, the language will blur, and all will be subsumed by some governing paradigm; we will fall in line.”
It has happened more than once to me. How about you? How do we craft a life that matters?