197: “This Whole World” (Franz Wright)

                “no one is a stranger, this whole world is your home.” -Franz Wright, “Promise”

                A week ago, in response to a student’s poem, I found myself asking: “This makes it sound like you think there’s only one place you’re supposed to be, one good outcome, one right path. Is that true?” She answered quickly: “Yes.” I don’t know if she kept thinking about that, but I did, and yesterday we talked it over.
                I know I’ve felt like she did: I’ve felt like living and working and growing up were a single tightrope, and if I messed up, if I fell, I’d never get back to where I was, let alone to where I was going. Sometimes, instead, life’s felt more like a field–I can walk here, or there, or lie down, or listen, or double back, and there’s always ground beneath me. My student saw those two images, too: the tightrope and the field. As we talked it over, she said she wanted to practice seeing the field more often.
                Back when I was choosing what college to attend, I thought I had to make the right decision, and I thought there was only one of those. Then my brother said: “You did the work to find interesting doors, and now you’re lucky enough that some of them are open. You choose which one to walk through.” If all goes as planned, next week’s Uproar will be my last before I move away from Oklahoma City. There are lots of quotes about leaving (“Tomorrow to fresh woods”), but I find myself thinking more about Franz Wright. Maybe moving isn’t the same as leaving. Maybe moving isn’t going off to walk alone through a disconnected crowd. Maybe it’s going to another place where I live. Maybe it’s almost like going back, even if it’s going to someplace I’ve never been. Wherever I’ve walked there’s someone to meet. Wherever I’ve stepped, there’s ground or rock or water beneath me.
                No one is a stranger, this whole world is your home.

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