The Peace of Wild Things

Sometimes in the very wee hours, well into the next day, I realize that my life has nothing. Because success is measured not in the lives I’ve touched or the way I’ve made people smile. It is not measured in the words I write or the insights I have. It is measured in papers that say I’m successful at school. It is measured in papers that have monetary value, that say I own a car, that say I own a house. I have none of these things, in fact, I have plenty of people sending me paper that says I owe them.

I have held a girl as she cried and screamed about her rape by her father. I have had a perfect moment where I felt love, flawless and crystalline, where I felt my heart touch someone else’s in perfect trust. I have stood on the mountains and sung my heart out with no words at all around a bonfire as two dozen drummers backed my cry. I have danced like no one is watching me, like someone is watching me, and loved the authenticity in the fact that both dances were so similar.

I have stood under a waterfall, felt it wash me clean. I have run until I fell down, trying to chase serenity from my anger and rage. I have touched lives. Written words that moved people to tears, spoke words that someone needed to hear to be all right again.

But none of that is valuable in the eyes of the world. Any beauty or promise I have is reduced to the number of zeros behind my yearly earnings and the assets in my name. The value I have is nothing more than a set of numbers, a series of accomplishments, a list of achievements.

Sometimes in the very late hours into morning, it becomes so very hard to see the dawn even though it’s rising.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendel Berry

I can’t find my grace.


~ by oniongirl13 on January 14, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Peace of Wild Things”

  1. Oniongirl,

    Your post touched me. I used to measure success by the bits of paper and the job title and the income and the house and the car. I have many of those things, and yet my life is meaningless.

    To me, true meaning, true “success” comes in touching others – and allowing us to be touched by them. This is a different, and in some circles an unconventional definition of success, but to me it is a far more meaningful one.

    I sometimes imagine myself at the end of my life, looking back over things. At that time, the bits of paper will hold no meaning (except may be to some of the vultures who want to inherit them). I would prefer my “success” to be measured in the touching. I am so afraid I will never achieve that, but I live in hope.

    Take care

  2. Sweet OnionGirl,

    You may not see your grace, but all of us who read your blog do. And we’re damn grateful you are alive and well and sharing it with us.

    No one’s grace is measured by zeros. The things you do, and the things you are – they may seem intangible and immeasurable, but that is the essence of grace. Grace is intangible and immeasurable, and yours is absolutely radiant.


  3. […] therapy by Kerro My therapist asked me this question last week (also blogged about by Onion Girl here). I figure the stars must be aligned, so here are my thoughts on […]

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