Sudden Light by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
You were born with an empty book before you. Your life quickly began filling its pages, the pages become chapters and before you knew it your little notebook transformed into a novel that told the tale of another of humanity’s grains of sand.
The chapters of life are a fascinating thing to me. While Rosetti was likely speaking of the death known as “physical death” (the kind that ends in a grave), I have to wonder if he wasn’t speaking to the chapters of life as well.
One life can be divided up in so many ways. Childhood and adulthood. Educational years, working years, retirement years. All can be seen as chapters in a book.
When you’ve moved from chapter to chapter in life, have you found some strings of continuity? Are there persistent themes that appear and reappear with comforting or at times alarming consistency, times where you say to yourself as Rosetti put it: “Has this been thus before?”
Threads of success as well as failure weave through life in a predictable fashion until the pattern is broken, one way or the other. You can succeed where you’ve failed in the past and you can fail where success was previously the norm. As such, it is important to take note when you do succeed and take heed when you fail. Both will offer important clues as to how to be a greater success in the next chapter of your life.
You cannot learn about who you are or what successes will be wrought through you from a book. There is no manual. You may glean bits and pieces of advice from here and there, but ultimately the story you tell has to emerge in and through you.
There is no doubt that we live in a tough world. It is not ideal. No one had an ideal upbringing. We’ve all had our bumps and bruises and we each have the scars – physical, mental and emotional – to show for it.
Just as you should never scratch a mosquito bite, you are wise not to dwell on the irritants in your life – past or present. Ask yourself instead, “What can I do – here and now, based on what I know and what resources I have at my command – to handle this situation successfully?” Doing anything else is not only a waste of time, it will likely result in further bloodshed and scarring.
Creative thinking and timely action is your lifeblood. Forego either or both and you will add sad stories to a subsequently less successful chapter in your life. There are far more tales of woe in the history of man than there are bright examples of success and victory.
What will it be for you?
11 thoughts on “Your Book of Life”
It’s not always up to you what comes your way, but how you handle it is a point that’s always in your control. There are many shades of gray in life, times when you’re not sure what to do. There are at least as many times when what you need to do is right in front of you, and clear as day. I want to make sure that I never miss an opportunity like that. You don’t need a manual for those times, just the courage and the discipline to do the right thing because it’s the right thing!
Great comment. I really appreciate your perspective!
Really inspiring – thanks!!
What can I do? That’s my question to myself as I begin each day. I read your post and a few pages of two other books each morning, looking for those pieces of advice, but it’s true, my thoughts and actions that will write my chapter. Thanks for the inspiration to look up.
Beautiful poem and enjoyed your perspective.
I’ve definitely found that life has “chapters” – and the wonderful thing about this is that a new chapter can be started at any time and the old chapters end up being just that – history. I’m constantly getting better and letting the past be where it is, in the past. The present moment is where we get to write in our book and I appreciate the importance that you have put on creative thinking in the here and now.
Lovely poem. Thanks for your balanced perspective – it makes sense!
I’ve been reading your posts everyday – but haven’t had much of an opportunity to respond lately. New chapter and all …
This was wonderful Gregg, thank you. It’s amazing, in the moments that I have to slow down and think about my response or direction, I realize that those are the moments I recognize deep down. In contrast though – instead of my very often muttered “I could swear I’ve been here before” I find myself saying “This feels right – I knew this would happen” It is a very comforting feeling during some of the more tumultuous times, and keeps me living in the positive, with a steady (albeit unpredictable) sense of what will happen in the future.
Thanks Gregg, really needed that reminder this morning, there is always bigger fish to fry, and giving our attention (life force) to small things keeps us small. Today I will take some time to see the forest for the tree’s and get a view as to what I can do from here to continue upward.
Truly grateful for this pro-vision and fresh perspective today!
Your guidance is invaluable
Love to you.
Great analogy with the mosquito bite – good way to remember with any irritant to just not go there. There are more creative solutions and uses of your time.
I like your perspective on Dante’s poem!
Thanks Gregg – beautiful post! – i’ve been giving much consideration to “creative time”, it can make such a positve difference in our lives and those we influence. When i neglect taking time to think i often find “Has this been thus before?”
There is a wonderful question i’ve borrowed from “Time to Think”, a book you mentioned sometime ago, ….
“What am i assuming about _____ that is limiting my thinking?”…..this has been a great question to help me expand my thinking – thanks for the book recommendation!!