Sunday, December 15, 2013


Sylvia Fein, Lady with her baby

I went to a party last night. I love the woman who gave it. I ate good food and drank two party drinks made with gin and fruit juice, garnished with a cranberry. I mingled with people I didn't know, and I laughed uproariously with those I did know. I tried not to be a hater, especially when people talked about their holiday travel plans and where their children were going to college, how stressed they were, how difficult it is and all that jazz. I stifled my impulse to interject with sharp-tongued comments like tomorrow I'm attending a conference about medical marijuana and will be talking with people who hope their kids don't die before they get it. I restrained myself from both being a hater and being impulsive. I embraced my inner Bodhisattva and felt compassion for all people, even the smug. The I that is me disappeared. I thought about this poem.

The Art of Disappearing

When they say, Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say Why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.

Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

Naomi Shihab Nye


  1. I am sitting with these words.

  2. Exactly. That poem reminded me a lot of Yoko Ono. Whom I adore. So thank you.

  3. P.S. Does that picture not remind you of Susan Serandon?

  4. I had two parties last night in the snow. I went to one of them even tho I was sad. I went to the one where I wouldn't have to pretend. I blew off the other which I hear was a happening. My son went to that one. He said everyone asked for his parents. Those glamorous people will probably never invite us again. That poem makes me feel a little better.

  5. This is such a good poem. I don't get invited out much because I've been a cabbage for so long now.

  6. I think that you must be a much better person than I: I struggle mightily to be more cabbage-like and to hold my tongue!!

  7. oh yes, I know some of those people. that poem is fascinating.

  8. Good luck with disappearing - you are so not invisible - thank God

  9. good for you and your Buddha nature. They don't know the world you inhabit. That's why I often shy away from larger gatherings...(larger than 4). Because they don't know me, and they don't really want to. Nor I them. We're making nice chit-chat. Most times that leaves me flat. I joined a photo gallery a couple of years ago, wanting to connect and learn from others. But they were the biggest clique and not welcoming of their new members at all. I hear now they are having a hard time recruiting members. Duh.

    wonderful poem. how to be in the world but not of it.

  10. Thank you for sharing that poem - I needed to read that, especially now. xoxo

  11. I remember that poem -- I think you shared it before, long ago. I really love that line about the cabbage.

    This time of year is always a bit fatiguing with party duty, isn't it? Why do we do it to ourselves?

  12. not feeling very leaf-like these days ... perhaps i should try harder.

  13. i love this poem--how perfect. i hate parties, and now i have poetry to back me up. nobody can argue with that. ("oh...can't come? oh...a poem. hmmm...")

  14. That is my new favorite poem. And I don't really like poetry much, so that's saying something. I love the part about not "singing him all your new songs - you will never catch up." There is so much in my life that I am finding overwhelming right now that I often choose to say nothing to anyone over talking about any of it, for fear that the floodgates will open up and I will end up drowning in my own self-pity and anger. I am glad you had lovely drinks and laughed uproariously. Sometimes we have to disappear to learn something about what's important. I hope the medical marijuana conference proves fruitful. Love.

  15. That poem is perfection. I am often amazed at your ability to find compassion for whatever small ailments I complain about on my blog. I imagine you have worked hard for that buddha self, and I admire you for it.

  16. Thanks for sharing your experience with us/me - I, unlike you, find putting my thoughts down with such accuracy a very difficult task... Sometimes our best accomplishments come from the duties & tasks which appear to be (at the time) the most difficult. Not that you need or ask for my words of support - as I am sure you'll continue on your positive adventure - but keep up the good work (writing) and all the effort devoted to your very special Sophie. I am hopeful for continued positive results in the very near future...

  17. I find myself wrestling with the same things sometimes, and sometimes not. it depends on the day, the situation, what's going on with my daughter. Sometimes i am so much like you and sometimes I am those mothers droning on at the party about the banal and bragging about the three others. I am both women so I see both sides... and I agree that to practice compassion without judgement is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life... especially toward myself :) glad you had FUN at that party!! you deserve it :)

  18. Ahh, I relate to this post in so many ways! And the poem made me chuckle, especially this:

    "When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
    nod briefly and become a cabbage."




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