Food for Thought, Om Nom Nom


Alive Together

By Lisel Mueller

Speaking of marvels, I am alive
together with you, when I might have been
alive with anyone under the sun,
when I might have been Abelard’s woman
or the whore of a Renaissance pope
or a peasant wife with not enough food
and not enough love, with my children
dead of the plague. I might have slept
in an alcove next to the man
with the golden nose, who poked it
into the business of stars,
or sewn a starry flag
for a general with wooden teeth.
I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
or a woman without a name
weeping in Master’s bed
for my husband, exchanged for a mule,
my daughter, lost in a drunken bet.
I might have been stretched on a totem pole
to appease a vindictive god
or left, a useless girl-child,
to die on a cliff. I like to think
I might have been Mary Shelley
in love with a wrong-headed angel,
or Mary’s friend. I might have been you.
This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
statistically nonexistent;
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses
agree it is almost over,
alive with our lively children
who-but for endless ifs-
might have missed out on being alive
together with marvels and follies
and longings and lies and wishes
and error and humor and mercy
and journeys and voices and faces
and colors and summers and mornings
and knowledge and tears and chance.

I found this poem the other day and I just thought I would share it with you guys. I love it. It reminds me to appreciate the people I have in my life, and I hope it does the same for you. I way too often take my friends and family for granted, like they’ll always be there and it’s a given we’ll always be in touch, when in reality, it’s a miracle we exist together at all, for however long that may be. The odds are stacked so infinitely against my best friend or my mom or my sister and me existing at the same period in history, much less the same place, and when things are put into perspective like that, every relationship we have is incredible.  
I also recently read David Foster Wallace’s graduation speech for Kenyon University (there’s a transcript of it here), and he mentioned something similar. He was talking about how we should try to break out of our hardwired state of being the center of our experiences, and how, even in a huge grocery line after a terrible work day, we can choose to see that fact that that exact group of people, all with lives as complex as our own, are alive in the same place, as a miracle.
Putting life into new perspective like that is really cool to me, because thinking the same things about life all the time gets boring, and I think it’s always good to shake things up and develop some new ideas about everyday things.
Just thought these were some interesting ideas to pass on…food for thought, om nom nom.
Have a lovely rest of the week…tomorrow’s finally Friday!! Any exciting plans for the weekend?

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