wondering about lilies
in a mountain pond
Tell me a writer who really gets a satisfying jornal, in Spanish a daily wage or its equivalent, and I’ll bare a spirit in constant bouts of doubtfulness. Does a writer earn more because of what he writes and how he does it? Or is a writer paid more or less because of who he is? Is it money or honor he expects to receive?
Ahhh … but money as wage, and praise or honor as reward would be too predictable, too common as Job lamented in the Book of Job. It is in these lines that read: “Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his times no better than hired drudgery? Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages, months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief. Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’ Risen I think, ‘How slowly evening comes!’
Restlessly I fret till twilight falls. Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed, and vanished, leaving no hope behind. Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.”
Not money but joy is the ultimate wage as the passage implies. And joy is not hard to earn for it is in everyday life if we have eyes to see, a nose to smell, fingers to touch, ears to hear–a heart beating. This to me, is how a writer earns a daily wage. His wages then take the guise of treasures his heart can transfigure into a universe of thought that taps into other hearts, that causes a swirl in the depth of other souls, or that makes wings to sprout on leaden heels.
Sometimes not joy but rueful, poignant moments are my pick. Take what I earned once: On my walk home in my neighborhood, I caught two clumps of snowdrops–such tiny blossoms smaller than fingertips that do not look up but shyly droop close to black patches on the ground winter has frozen. That afternoon in the frosty wind, they trembled as if ready to turn away and run but how could they? For that poignant moment on seeing the wintry rain beat on the fragile snowdrop–as if pushing it to go home now, go to sleep–I earned my jornal, my daily wage.
Once on summer walk, the crackle of dried leaves just hit me both like the laughter of children and sobs long suppressed. Neither one of them would resolve the dryness, but I recalled how each does bring tears: laughter for joy, sobs for healing that comes with the release of a dammed-up pain. My jornal that day came as two haiku.
Fall has since shortened the day and the heart begins to crave for lost space that it doesn’t even recall which or where. I feel that most treasures have turned into mush so much so I wouldn’t be able to sift them off the ground. Yet I caught the dying day yesterday–so glorious in the gold of autumn it opened a flip side of serene heaven. Blades of grass coated in diadems of rain that carpet the lawns render royal walks poor by imitation. A burst of red maple against an inky blue sky humbled me, a soul bragging about her skill to recreate beauty in words.
I suppose I’m taking Job’s reflections to heart. I’d rather not gloss over each day and look beyond what’s there, right before me, or else fragile as is my breath one day “my eyes may never again see joy” to write. With what then will I compare the eternal joy, the ultimate wage I await?
Yet for now, as other eyes hanker to make the invisible visible, I put a tag on some moments of joy. Like on seeing the snowdrops, I paid myself $200 as my jornal.
What could have been yours?