My father kept this newspaper clipping taped up in his shop. It always made me stop and think and wonder if my father had learned these things.
After he closed down his shop, I laminated it with scotch tape and have managed to keep it for decades. I hadn’t seen it in years, and came across it the other day when I was packing for my move to NYC. It’s amazing to me how although decades have gone by, sometimes it feels as if time stand still.
This clipping didn’t identify the author, but I was curious, so I consulted the interwebs. Jorge Luis Borges is the original author, and most renditions I found were in poem form, and some sources suggest that this is only an excerpt from a longer poem.
Here is the text from my clipping, transcribed for easy reading:
After a while, you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head held high and your eyes wide open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
You learn to build your roads on today, because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong. And that you really do have worth and that you keep learning. With every goodbye you learn.
I love thinking of my father reading this, reminding himself of the advice from time to time. This little clipping connects me to him in so many ways.