The Golden Thread

One of the more fascinating elements of the discussion tonight [1] about the poetry and other writings of William Stafford was the discussion of the golden thread that ties together our thoughts and memories and ideas. Although I do not write about this thread often in the course of my writings, this thread is something that ties together a great many of my memories and reflections. Let us examine how the golden thread works and draw attention to an element that normally is subtle in its operation and acts without drawing too much attention to itself. It is worthwhile at times to show attention to those matters of considerable importance that often slip beneath the radar and fail to attract our attention.

For a writer, especially a writer whose work is sensitive to the people and situations that abound, the first element of a reflection is attentiveness. In order to reflect upon life, something has to catch our attention. If we live our lives unaware of the people and action around us, then we miss our chances to understand the life that we live, the world that we live in, and to relate to those around us. The more we are alert and aware to our own lives and others, we recognize the patterns of our lives, our sorrows, our longings, our struggles, many of which are common within humanity and that focus on the tragic nature of our fallen world as well as our poignant longing for beauty and wholeness, for love and respect.

Once one is attentive to the experiences around us, it remains for us to take in the experiences and to follow the threads that come from those moments. For example, tonight I had an enjoyable evening listening to thoughtful and poignant poetry about family, books, life, death, creation, and identity. The invitation that I received last night to this particular event triggered a reminder of my own act of writing poetry [2] and the longings inherent in my own writings and in the way I feel as a writer trying to wrestle with my own life and the feelings of those around me. So one thread goes from poetry to the emotions that drive me to write poetry, which are often melancholy in nature. It should therefore be fairly easy to understand that I tend to relate very easily to melancholy literature and meditations in general [3]. While it is easy to consider melancholy as a negative thing, there is a sense of beauty in the deep waters of our lives, even if that beauty is more of a sense of wonder and appreciation and reverent awe at the power and depth that it contains than it is the giddiness of a shallow and babbling brook. This thread deals with emotional and spiritual matters.

Yet another thread deals with intellectual matters. After all, poetry readings are often done at libraries and universities, or at coffee shops and bookstores. These are all related places where there is a considerable focus on intellect along with a certain amount of culture. The poetry that is read in such places may vary widely, depending on the skill and the personality of the poet himself (or herself), but the context of poetry generally takes place in an atmosphere of books and of knowledge. Being a person who greatly loves books and is certainly bookish, it would make sense that the intellectual thread of poetry and its social and physical context would be one that would interest me, even if I did not decide to attempt to get a library card for Columbia County today [4.]. Still, it was fascinating to be at an event with people of some cultural and intellectual inclinations even in a town as small as St. Helens, and one which reminded me so much of my own hometown of Plant City, whose library I came to know well as a child.

Here again we see the golden thread in operation. What we notice, and what we notice about what we notice starts from the outside and works its way through our memory and our experiences and our personality and our intellect, until it is expressed in ways that make allusions and references to what we know and that seeks to distill some sort of wisdom or reflection on the nature of life. Such an attentiveness to what is around us helps us to better understand ourselves and our motivations as well as better relate to and show compassion on those around us. The golden thread may be a very modest and unassuming thread of feelings and sensations and memories and triggers, but what it does is it manages to connect our present experiences with the course of our lives and our relationships to others, and it helps us make sense of our world and the people and phenomena in it. Let us therefore appreciate this thread, even if it does not always tie together what is the most pleasant and convenient.



[3] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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8 Responses to The Golden Thread

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