Do not stand at my grace and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grace and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
- Mary Elizabeth Frye 1905-2004.
This poem was written on a brown paper bag in 1932. Inspired by a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with her and her husband in Baltimore at the time. Schwarzkopf was concerned about her very ill mother in Germany, but was warned not to return home because of increasing anti-Semitic unrest. When her mother died, the heartbroken young woman told Frye she never had a chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear.” Later that day, Frye found herself composing a piece of the verse on that brown paper bag.
The poem itself, brings shivers down my spine. Along with the reason it was inspired, I am reminded that life can be both beautiful and tragic, sometimes at the same time. That being said, all of us hold the power to take our pain, let the creative juices flow, and turn that heartache into something else; something exquisite and inspiring, that connects us with our fellow human being. It is this truth that connects me with this poem.
We come into this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. Silver and gold have nothing to a free heart and a free mind.
From what I’ve read, you sound like you need a break. I know no better way to escape the hustle bustle of every day life, than to break into a different world of culture and history. I can guarantee you will come back feeling refreshed and content with what you have. Many people in western culture don’t realize how lucky we have - it astounds me that someone who has a roof over their head, a car, a fridge full of food and grog, can still complain about all the things they don’t have. I see the irony in using what others don’t have to show what we do have - but I also don’t know a better way.
- If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep - you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.
- If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish - you are among the top 8 per cent of the worlds wealthy.
- If you woke up this morning with more health than illness - you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation - you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
- If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
Freedom is free. So is happiness.
Don’t spend money you don’t have, and spend little of what you do have. Saving is simple. Don’t get a credit card. Don’t buy materialistic shit you don’t need. Don’t be deceived by the constant threads media wraps around our necks, telling us we need the newest, biggest, loudest, whateveritisthey’readvertising, treating us as consumers, not as human beings.
50% of my weekly income goes to basic needs - rent, food, books, pens and notebooks.
Every week I save $200 towards travel. It’s not hard. For me, that’s 10 hours work - two shifts. Don’t even question it. Consider it money you have, but don’t have - in the sense you won’t be spending it, for a while at least. Another $20-$100 goes to gifts for friends, or those more unfortunate than me - charity, fundraisers, offerings at church etc. If I’ve worked hours one particular week, I may treat myself to new soaps or candles or photo frames (the only materialist things I collect - cause light, nice smells, and happy memories aren’t all bad. Or I add it to that savings account and start googling more places to travel.
I hope my babble helps you, and I hope you start new adventures in the very near future.
There is no greater war than that which is waged between the pen and the paper.
Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.
Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.
Yuanfen(Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.
From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.
But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.
Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.
Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.
Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.
Apparently, in 2004, this word won the award as the world’s most difficult to translate. Although at first, I thought it did have a clear phrase equivalent in English: It’s the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. But ilunga conveys a subtler concept, because the feelings are different with each “strike.” The word elegantly conveys the progression toward intolerance, and the different shades of emotion that we feel at each stop along the way.
Ilunga captures what I’ve described as the shade of gray complexity in marriages—Not abusive marriages, but marriages that involve infidelity, for example. We’ve got tolerance, within reason, and we’ve got gradations of tolerance, and for different reasons. And then, we have our limit. The English language to describe this state of limits and tolerance flattens out the complexity into black and white, or binary code. You put up with it, or you don’t. You “stick it out,” or not.
Ilunga restores the gray scale, where many of us at least occasionally find ourselves in relationships, trying to love imperfect people who’ve failed us and whom we ourselves have failed.
La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.
When I came across this word I thought of “unrequited” love. It’s not quite the same, though. “Unrequited love” describes a relationship state, but not a state of mind. Unrequited love encompasses the lover who isn’t reciprocating, as well as the lover who desires. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.
This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.
Ya’aburnee(Arabic): “You bury me.” It’s a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
The online dictionary that lists this word calls it “morbid and beautiful.” It’s the “How Could I Live Without You?” slickly insincere cliché of dating, polished into a more earnest, poetic term.
Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.
This is a wonderful term for that blissful state, when all your senses are acute for the beloved, the pins and needles thrill of the novelty. There’s a phrase in English for this, but it’s clunky. It’s “New Relationship Energy,” or NRE.
Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.”
It’s interesting that saudade accommodates in one word the haunting desire for a lost love, or for an imaginary, impossible, never-to-be-experienced love. Whether the object has been lost or will never exist, it feels the same to the seeker, and leaves her in the same place: She has a desire with no future. Saudade doesn’t distinguish between a ghost, and a fantasy. Nor do our broken hearts, much of the time.