The Work of Life


The work of life
by kate ballbach

Jobs come and jobs go
The work of life, wreathed with fear and failure, never lets up
We carry a thousand yesterdays of burdens and a small army of tomorrows cares
Reaching for distraction or fast tracking connection, we blindly give away our autonomy to shiny things and notification sounds
We seek more input, or attention, while solitude waits in the wings
eager to take a long walk in the park.
She waits, through the bender and after the detox, confident she is the best algorithm to live by.
You only have to put on your shoes
And wade through the awkward silences, skipping or stomping if you please
Asking your scattered brain to slow down the pace so your head and heart can join in conversation
You are not being graded on whether that conversation is lively or barely detectable
Thank God.
It is simply noticing your body, not his or hers, but the guts and glory of yours walking for you because you can do things
Or that small patch of green grass and a few crooning birds flooding your senses because you can feel things
Or the smell of car exhaust mixed with roses because your nose knows the work of life can’t just be a walk in the park
New hope, big or small, might spring from a small screen but chances are better with a long walk in the park

Voluminous Love

We cannot see the source of this rushing water

Though we know it to be here

Somewhere upstream

The emancipation of rumblings below the surface

Tears of a glacier racing down to meet us

Clouds bursting open to pile on

In a day where everyone is allergic to something

This water: satisfying for all

Made for us

Yes to quench our thirst

Also to wash, splash and skinny dip

A little further downstream

This tributary grafted with others

Towards the even deeper ocean of love

Make Room

I see the words whiz by my head

Looking for a place to settle

Shut out by I can’t

Twisted into something less

Not fill in the blank enough is here

Choosing what abounds

Leaving rubbish as it goes

A cheerful heart not strong enough medicine

To clear these swollen rooms

Any attempt to partition foiled

Insatiable is this multiplying terrorist

I must bid self-loathing leave

Insist on it in fact

To make room for all that is good

To make room for even more

GPS Drive

Though I’ve been a few times before, enter destination to be safe.

This first part - this following the road for 15 kilometers – like autopilot.   Cars and trucks and all kinds of vehicles share this wide road with lanes breaking for a range of speed appetites.

An announced exit to a slower country road, a curious path for a destination so well visited.   Cruise control is worthless here; this is a road you must drive.

I remember this road.  The first time, I was sure it wasn’t the most direct way.  I checked it, and yes it is the fastest way from A to B.  Not every two lane road is a road less traveled, especially the ones that cross bridges and hug rivers and insist on allowing nature to show herself off.  

Surely it is slower here, but the views less a blur. There is lush landscape surrounded by steep vineyards, half-timbered townhouses in every color of the pastel rainbow.  There are signs you can read and smiles you can make out.  With so much to see, you can’t possibly catch it all the first time through.  

This is better.  Motorways get us most of the way there, but we want our last miles to have a story with a few twists and turns.  The story would be entirely different if I were on this road tomorrow, or behind a tractor.

Listening for directions becomes important here, lest you land yourself in a deserted narrow valley where your cellular lifelines become useless or you can’t make a U-turn. 

Taillight to taillight, the temptation to pass swelling but the steady stream of oncoming traffic forces you to sit back and wait for an opening.  Wait.  Those budding vineyards on the hillside.  That car in front with a license plate from a different country.

Finally an open road ahead, the chance to accelerate – if even for a moment – where everything outside blends together into a swirl of color and texture and wonder.  Turn up the music.

Then, another small town.  Each new town like a relationship, with their smiling radar speed sign, demands that you slow down and take notice.  A frown saved for those who insist on blowing through, racing to their destination without remembering their own village.

Roundabouts where forks used to be, so many more choices with a scarcely a yield before entering.  Some circling the inside, unsure where to let themselves out.

Unexpected heavy rain dumps like Russian soldiers stampeding in, attention focuses ahead where road delineations become less visible and peripheral vision squeezed.  The beautiful tapestry of only minutes ago veiled to the elements outside your control.

Drive defensively and reflect on the feast you’ve just had, knowing the skies will clear and your destination – if not in sight – promises to be only a few roundabouts ahead.


Wandering Thoughts

I wish I was smarter

There’s so much to know.

And so much in need of understanding.

I wish I wanted for wisdom as much as knowledge

One can be accumulated,

The other earned through trial and failure.

I wish my idling thoughts were deeper

Full of wondering questions.

Full of more than myself.

I wish my memory bank was more organized

That it sprung fewer leaks.

Captured only the important stuff.

I wish I had curiosity to send me further afield

Back to the history books

To more than what’s in easy reach.

But my mind is tied down

I’m carrying around all those packages of worry

And other icky stuff.

They’re so heavy, you know?

Maybe I could leave them here.

You could too.

We can see more of the world if we do.

It won’t make us smarter.

Or plug all our leaks.

But our journey will be lighter.

A wise man once said:

Bring all that you have

And that will be enough.