Who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth?

By some chance here they are, all on this earth, and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying on quilts on the grass, in a summer evening among the sounds of the night? – James Agee, Knoxville, Summer of 1915

I woke up this morning feeling better than I did the night before, which isn’t saying much. I had crashed early with an upset stomach, barely mustering the energy to take out the trash, neglecting my tasks of tidying up, doing the dishes, and packing.

When I woke up I wanted more. Suddenly my lack of a garbage disposal seemed like an insurmountable challenge. And then I was ashamed for wanting a garbage disposal. My apartment was a mess and I wasn’t packed and I was lonely and I was hungry but couldn’t eat.

This is what autumn is like, and autumn is coming, even though I have a lovely weekend in front of me singing out at Tanglewood. I know that as I sit on the grass and sit on the stage I will be happy, and that happiness will be tinged with the knowledge that “nothing gold can stay“, or “it is Margaret you mourn for” or whatever poetic axiom you want to use to describe the aching tug toward a beauty and completeness we can never quite reach in this life.


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