i didn’t ask for this

It is the first day of spring. Well you wouldn’t know it living in this god forsaken place. Still as Ranaulph Fiennes is reported to have said, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

April further unfolds itself. It looks like now I will be spending about 10 days in Northern Spain hiking the El Camino de Santiago. I want to hike the whole 800km, but time and a packed schedule isn’t in favour of that at the moment.

I had that quiet before the storm period yesterday which had me feeling slightly out of place. But a little sweat and heavy metal helped cure that.

I remember reading this poem as a teenager as a part of my independent study in poetry. I was a serious poet back then filled with the normal teenaged angst and trying to figure out my place in the world. Eliot was my favourite poet in those days because I felt a sort gloominess in his words that described how our felt – a man out of place. A lot of Eliot’s characters are men who feel out of place and powerless to do anything about it except accept their fate.

I am wondering if I am feeling a bit like that now. But even as I write that, I know that is not true for me. I am an incorrigible rascal. And it is only when I feel repentant that I feel powerless.

Why should I repent for being me? I was born into a world I did not ask for. I was given a set of rules which nobody asked me if I want to play by. And they told me to go. But they didn’t tell me which way to go? So I had to make that up for myself. And that is what I have done. Why should I apologise?

Ash Wednesday – a Poem by T.S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

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