Nothing (Gold) Can Stay
The Hardest Hue To Hold.
Her Early Leaf's A Flower;
But Only So An Hour.
Then Leaf Subsides To Leaf.
So Eden Sank To Grief,
So Dawn Goes Down To Day.
Nothing Gold Can Stay.
Robert Frost, 1928
My first contact with this poem was on my - I think it was my 18th?- birthday. My elder brother had written it out in the card he sent me. (A beautiful card that had a tree which looked like it had just been touched by autumn: leaves of gold, red,brown and some green.)
My initial reaction when I saw that poem was glee. My elder brother had always been a bit stand-offish and a loner. He is also a highly cerebral and intelligent person, so I felt proud that he would see me that way as well by quoting some classics for me. After reading it though, I did not know whether to be offended or amused or concerned. I still don't.
I had always felt a sense of disapproval coming from him, but I chose to ignore it. It didn't help that my parents - especially my mother- practically worshipped him, and, in a way, compared both of us, using a measure that made me always come up short. I gradually grew to resent him, and that 'atmosphere' in my home, making a mental vow to change everything by moving away and being successful. (Wow! Therapy. I just realised the reason for a lot of my issues.) But I digress. I kept the card for a very long time and chose to ignore the unspoken sentiment, which I know/knew was unfounded.
Anyway, today, over a decade later, and all that resentment dead and buried, it's his birthday. And the words on that card ring so, so true. Not just for me, but for him, and my whole family in a way. I can imagine how disappointed my mother must feel that her children haven't achieved much. Maybe more worried than disappointed, but upset all the same. Especially for the ones she held close - and I say this without malice. More importantly today, I imagine that he must also feel grossly disappointed in himself, knowing our aspirations as kids, his hopes, qualifications and his abilities. Or maybe he doesn't who knows?
It's his birthday, anyway, and my reminder that life is like a flight to an unknown destination: you think you are moving slowly,until you look down and see how far you are from the ground, and until you land you can't tell what will happen on that journey. The only thing you have control over is what seat you want.
Happy Birthday ,' Kasparov'.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN