I woke up in tears today – my pillow was wet and I wasn’t sure why. Then I flipped the date on my calendar and knew. My maternal grandmother died five years ago today.
I don’t know who first shared this poem with me or when. I do know that I felt a deeper connection to one of my besties when I saw it framed on her nightstand our senior year in college.
The poem “You Learn” reminds me of my beloved grandma.
After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises,
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
and you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong.
And you really do have worth.
And you learn. And learn.
With every good-bye you learn.
— Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by Veronica A. Shoffstall
This poem has stuck with me, through the years.
Especially this line: “So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
It’s a call to be in charge of your own happiness.
The person you’re waiting for … may never come your way.
Be that person.
The person you’re waiting for … is you.
No one can hold your hand though life. Sometimes, yes. Many times, maybe.
But not every step of the way.
Not a chance.
If you want something, it’s up to you to go after it.
It’s up to you to plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.
If you love travel, join a group going where you want to go. Or go by yourself.
If you want snap beautiful photographs, make a plan to learn the craft. Commit to daily practice, watch films with artistic cinematography, take a class at a local art studio, talk to artists whose style you admire.
Instead of hinting at a special night out, ask for it or plan it.
And if someone brings you flowers, even better!
Do you have a poem that jumps out at you at certain times? What is a poem that you know by heart?
P.S. My Grandma’s Rules for Happiness.
Ciao for now.