Sunday, June 9, 2013

O thin men of Hartford

I was struck by the Wallace Stevens stanza while perusing Real Hartford's latest photos of the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

     O thin men of Haddam,
     Why do you imagine golden birds?
     Do you not see how the blackbird
     Walks around the feet
     Of the women about you?

Not sure why, but I thought is was both funny and relevant.  Mr. Stevens was an insurance company executive at The Hartford, but also found time to write poetry.  I've been told much of the poetry was composed while walking the couple miles to and from work.  The historical markers are way points on his route.  If you watched the Hartford-centric indie film Rising Star, you'll recall that the nuanced sledge hammer message of the movie that one can have both a profession and a passion.  If the passion isn't the profession, the separate passion doesn't have to be extinguished or left to wither.  Make your bread, but don't lose your fire.  If you reach too ardently after the golden bird, you may find yourself lacking in depth and short on joy.

The movie also seemed to imply that you could walk all of Hartford in a leisurely afternoon.  I would be interested in seeing a route of the scenes on a Google map and with calculated mileage.  There is a difference between suspending disbelief and believing in the absolutely ridiculous.  I imagine that the local audience is supposed to take the exhaustive walking tour of Hartford as an inside joke.

The golden bird may be an idealized goal, or simply cold hard cash.  In chasing the hard to reach and living the commercially promoted life we forget that within walking (or biking distance) of our home and place of employment there are countless blackbirds possessing their own singular beauty, overlooked perhaps with familiarity or prejudice.  Within a life that isn't gilt there are still opportunities to find happiness.  This is a valuable lesson for Connecticut and those living or working in the Hartford metro region.  If we want to live a happy and sustainable life, it seems important that we recognize our nearby and local treasures.  Culturing an appreciation for blackbirds may both simplify and expand our lives.

Dario - I expect this will give you some inspiration.  Perhaps a guest post?  

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