Trying to Reach the Sun

Starting a business is hard.  There’s always the fear of failing and when things fail, the idea that it was all your fault and you could have done things better. It’s a shitty feeling.  That’s what struck me about this poem below was it celebrates the accomplishment before the failure.  I often think about the skiing mantra, “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” 

So, to all of you who are trying to reach the sun like Icarus, bless you, and keep on flying…

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Mad Men and Literature

I just finished the first season of Mad Men and thought it was great. One thing i wasn’t expecting is how culturally literate it is (NY Times article).

During the season premier this year (just watched it) the main character, Don Draper, is reading a book by Frank O’Hara (Meditations in an Emergency).  At the end of the episode there’ s voice over of one of O’Hara’s poems.  The episode is about the coming of Fall (mid-year), the need to hire younger writers at the office, being middle-aged in the middle of the century.  It’s a great episode but I think the poem at the end more than encapsulates it. It reads:

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

"Reading at lunch. Makes you feel like you're getting something done." "Yeah, it's all about getting things done"

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When you are old

I read this passage on the plane this morning and it got me thinking…

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars
– William Butler Yeats

Here’s a woman looking back on her life thinking of herself and past loved ones. Did the woman reject love at one point or has it just passed her by?  I love the thought of Love fleeing and hiding its face amid a crowd of stars.  To me this is either because its a perfect love in an absolute sense or because its gone and now out of reach.  I like the former thought but i tend to think its written as the latter.  Anyone else with me?

America: a maximum-security prison with walls of Radio Shack, Burger King and MTV episodes

For today a poem titled “America” by my favorite poet Tony Hoagland…


Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison

Whose walls are made of RadioShacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes
Where you can’t tell the show from the commercials,

And as I consider how to express how full of shit I think he is,
He says that even when he’s driving to the mall in his Isuzu Trooper with a gang of his friends,

letting rap music pour over them
Like a boiling Jacuzzi full of ballpeen hammers,

even then he feels Buried alive,
captured and suffocated in the folds Of the thick satin quilt of America

And I wonder if this is a legitimate category of pain,
or whether he is just spin doctoring a better grade,

And then I remember that when I stabbed my father in the dream last night,
It was not blood but money That gushed out of him, bright green hundred-dollar bills

Spilling from his wounds, and—this is the weird part—,
He gasped “Thank god—those Ben Franklins were Clogging up my heart—
And so I perish happily, Freed from that which kept me from my liberty”— .

Which was when I knew it was a dream,
since my dad Would never speak in rhymed couplets,

And I look at the student with his acne and cell phone and phony ghetto clothes
And I think, “I am asleep in America too, And I don’t know how to wake myself either,”

And I remember what Marx said near the end of his life:
“I was listening to the cries of the past,
When I should have been listening to the cries of the future.”

But how could he have imagined 100 channels of 24-hour cable
Or what kind of nightmare it might be

When each day you watch rivers of bright merchandise run past you
And you are floating in your pleasure boat upon this river .

Even while others are drowning underneath you
And you see their faces twisting in the surface of the waters

And yet it seems to be your own hand
Which turns the volume higher?

When it's over…

I read a great passage by Mary Oliver:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if i have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t wan t to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world