Who, if I sung out, would hear?

Echo Bridge, Waban, Massachusetts

Echo Bridge, Waban, Massachusetts

The rock looked inviting.

Rocks, as I am sure you know, do not often look inviting. But this one did. Its cold, rough, mossy surface jutted out over the Charles River. It was bathed in sunlight.

I had not been exploring Hemlock Gorge very long, but I wanted to sit. And I wanted to read in the sunlight. What did it matter that I was wearing a business suit and a light trench coat, and had a laptop bag with two books slung across my shoulders? The river spirits wouldn’t care how I was dressed.

The soles of my shoes slipped and I was afraid of falling in. But, settling myself on the rock, I looked out at the river. I felt like child again, in a world of unlimited possibilities.

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The Great Metaphysicians

by Matthew Koslowski on December 3, 2009
in Anecdotes

Whenever I first think about traveling, I am struck with the horror that I cannot bring my whole library with me. How do I decide which books to bring? When I travel, I am on a strict budget. I could easily spend my entire budget on books. That’s true at home as well as abroad.

So, I try to bring books with me. Enough books to keep me entertained for the entire trip. I always resolve that I am not going to buy a single volume while abroad. This is a resolution that I know I am going to break even as I am making it; however, in making this resolution, I buy fewer books than I otherwise would.

I had begun to explore the poetry of W.B. Yeats before I went to Rome in 2004. Reading Yeats, I felt I found someone of a similar bent of mind, who looked for the mythic elements of life but also saw that the mythic elements are not enough to strip life of its banalities. Perhaps I had not realized that when I was packing for Rome. Whatever my reasons were, I decided not to bring The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats to Rome.

And that may have been a blessing in disguise.

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Every Angel is Terrifying

by Matthew Koslowski on November 11, 2009
in Anecdotes

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’
–Rainer Maria Rilke, “The First Elegy” from The Duino Elegies (Stephen Mitchell, trans.)

Saturday evening I felt overwhelmed.

My problems are not major. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, friends to pass time with, and a job. Though, in this economy, who can be sure of their job security? If this recession has done one thing, I hope that is has realigned people’s values to those things that truly matter. But my problems still distract me.

The Devil on my shoulder asks, “What have you got to complain about?” I start belittling myself and try to bury my problems. But some part of me remembers this piece of simple wisdom:

In the bottom of your shoe, even a small pebble is bigger than the whole world.

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For Madmen Only

by Matthew Koslowski on November 4, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

Steppenwolf: A Novel by Hermann Hesse (Basil Creighton, trans.)
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (Richard J. Finneran, ed.)
Don Juan in Hell: From Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw

Last night I finished rereading Steppenwolf. I had put it down for a while and flitted among the arts.

I know for certain I am in the middle of two other novels. But I think I may have forgotten that I am in the middle of any number of others.

The past few weeks have been filled with theatre and opera.

As if that were not enough, I have been reading from the poetry of Rumi, W.B. Yeats, and John Keats. In fact, I have been working on memorizing Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale.” I have the first stanza of ten lines memorized; only seventy lines left to commit to memory.

“Why are you spreading yourself so thin?” I asked myself earlier.

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Sailing with Rumi

by Matthew Koslowski on October 21, 2009
in Essays

or, Never Thought I’d be a Boat

In This Essay

The Essential Rumi by Jalal ad-Din Rumi (Coleman Barks with John Moyne, eds. and trans.)

Though I cannot explain it — and if I could, I don’t think I would explain it — I have always been attracted to the mystical. Perhaps I am no different than others, but I believed that there was something beyond this world when I was a child.

But it wasn’t just a belief in God. It was a belief that the world and our experience of it was completely unreal while being thoroughly more real than we can imagine.

What makes me different is that I have carried that belief into my adulthood.

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