small, unnecessary devotions

So what are we left with? Perhaps nothing more than the realization that much of life is devoted to things that in the end don’t matter very much, except to us. Time passes whether we like it or not, and its too-quick progress is measured out in private longings and solitary trivialities as much as in choices we might defend to a skeptical audience. This isn't to say there aren't reasons for us to love the things we love - Robert Frost was wrong, or at least not entirely right, to say that we "love the things we love for what they are." But those reasons can be difficult to describe in the way that it's hard to describe what red looks like, or how one's relationship with a child or parent feels. The same is true of poetry. I can’t tell you why you should bother to read poems, or to write them; I can only say that if you do choose to give your attention to poetry, as against all the other things you might turn to instead, that choice can be meaningful. There’s little grandeur in this, maybe, but out of such small, unnecessary devotions is the abundance of our lives sometimes made evident.

- David Orr, in the chapter entitled "Why Bother?" in his book Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry.

No comments: