in spite of everything
which breathes and moves,since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
through the morning)kiss
where our heads lived and were.
(E.E. Cummings, “in spite of everything.” 1931.)
It always ends in an empty room, but what ecstasy filled it before. Photograph by Anne Kristoff on the etsy.
What is beautiful to me in this poem is that it has more than a simple “stop and smell the roses” theme: Cummings admits that the world in its entirety as we perceive it will come to an end, yes, but that not only must we take joy in small moments, we must actually treasure these moments even as they have passed within our own lives. We must treasure one another and our time and connections, no matter how brief.
It’s a striking and emotional, encouraging message. But it’s also such a challenge because we can be so easily swept up in the dirty details and downtrodden state of life that we forget to kiss a pillow or take a moment purely for sentiment. Taking joy and deliberately remembering and treasuring a happy time: Is this a thing I am doing to the fullest, or am I always fretting about Apocalypse Yesterday and frittering away precious opportunities for connection and growth? I know my doom-and-gloom, fast-food-is-poison self to be guilty of the latter. This is a thing on which I resolve to work at improvement: accept that Doom I’m always gloomily prophesying is an eventuality and work within my life to make joy and find peace anyway.