There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
The Way It Is – William Stafford
When I first read this poem it immediately spoke to me about my own life, about the countless and sometimes incomprehensible choices I have made along the way. Choices to walk away from things and choices to walk towards things. I wasn’t always convinced that I was making the right choice. Sometimes they brought so much pain and suffering to myself and to others, that I was convinced that I had made a very wrong choice. But, looking back now, from the perspective I have gained, I can see how I was always following my thread.
Sometimes I did get lost. My thread got tangled up in thorny bushes and it took me awhile to unravel it and recover from the scratches. But I didn’t let go of the thread.
At one point, I started turning to other people to teach me and guide me. And I’m very grateful for their guidance. But I did learn that, no matter how valuable their teachings are, they only accompany me for a short while on the path: a certain crossing, a clear signpost on a rainy day. Eventually, my thread takes me further and I continue on my way.
And I think this is true for all of us. We can get caught up and bogged down in our lives. But we all follow a thread, even when other people can’t see it. Sometimes we have trouble seeing it ourselves. We can ask someone for help and guidance. But that is always just to get past that one snag in the path. And then we go back to following our own thread.