Mid-Life Ramblings

The Layers, a short poem written by Poet, Stanley Kunitz reflects on midlife years. We hope you enjoy the wisdom the verses offer. Throughout one's life, there are many times that reflections of things to come, or change to be made are prevalent. But, none of these reflections seem to be more significant starting at 40, around midlife. These reflections are of varied variety with some about careers, how much more time and energy should be spent or is needed to make that one final corporate climb, or to undertake that one more robust business venture. As well, part of these musings involves risk, that is, how much risk does one want to assume at this point in life. Thoughts often drift toward retirement where the dream is to do what you want, not what you have to do, or feel compelled to do.

A Short Poem
The Layers
Poet: Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
Toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
in my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

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