Seize the Day, Rain or Shine

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When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be
by John Keats
When I have fears that I may cease to be 
   Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, 
Before high-piled books, in charactry, 
   Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; 
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, 
   Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, 
And think that I may never live to trace 
   Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; 
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, 
   That I shall never look upon thee more, 
Never have relish in the faery power 
   Of unreflecting love—then on the shore 
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think 
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

I’ll be honest—I was never much into poetry when I was growing up. I was an avid reader, but I primarily stuck to fiction. But as a freshman in college I was introduced to English Romanticism and the poet John Keats, and I finally understood. Something about his writing resonated—the imagery, the language, his youth and melancholy. He was immensely talented (many critics have compared his lyrical writing quality to that of Shakespeare), but he died at such a young age that he was never fully recognized for his prowess until after his passing.

This sonnet is prophetic in that regard—Keats has not yet contracted the tuberculosis that will eventually claim his life, but he’s nevertheless fearful that he won’t reach his potential in his lifetime. He doesn’t know it when he writes this of course, but we know it now—he’ll never marry his love, and he’ll never see his poems become a success, making his words even more bittersweet.

Yet what moves me most is that palpable fear he expresses of not having enough time. I love that metaphor in line 2: “before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain.” His mind is full of all these thoughts and dreams and ideas, and his pen has yet to extract them.

This fear Keats harbors is an age-old one, for isn’t it something that we all fight against? Time–and not having enough of it.

I wrote in my first post that I’d finally reached a point where the fear of doing nothing outweighed the fear of failure. I kept asking myself, “what are you waiting for?” If you wait for the timing to be perfect–whether it’s launching a website, or starting a new job, or taking that bucket list trip–you might be waiting forever.

Some might read this sonnet in terms of sorrow and tragedy; for me, it inspires the exact opposite. It’s carpe diem in its most eloquent form, and it inspires me to be grateful for each day and to spend it on the people and things that matter to me.

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As spring inches near, I’ll admit that I’m dreaming of sunshine and blue skies… Here in Portland, March still means scattered showers, giant puddles, and temperamental downpours. As a native Oregonian, I’ve learned to embrace the unpredictable climate with timeless and durable rain attire. Some of my favorites I took with me to another cloudy city across the pond: London Town! It’s been exactly 6 months since my husband and I were there, and every time I pull out my Burberry umbrella, I’m transported back.

28340112_unknownCoat: Ellen Tracy (similar here and here)  Boots: Blondo  Purse: Longchamp  Umbrella: Burberry  Book: Norton Anthology of English Literature (Volume D, The Romantic Period)

Few items are classic in the way a beige trench coat is (one day I hope to purchase a Burberry version!), and this Ellen Tracy one is a tried and true fave. I’m obsessed with boots from Blondo—1) they’re always made from waterproof leather, 2) they have a range of fashionable colors and styles, and 3) they are SO comfortable! I can walk miles in any of my Blondo boots with zero pain or problems.

The Longchamp totes are great for everyday but are also amazing for travel (they pack nice and flat in your luggage too). Pictured above is the small Le Pliage shoulder tote, but I also have the large size for travel (it’s often what I bring on the plane). Whether you’re in Portland or London or another rainy location, these totes are especially practical in wet weather because the nylon is so resistant to moisture.

P.S. Before anyone teases me for being an Oregonian and owning an umbrella—something that locals often claim is a faux pas—I will say this: when you trudge miles from your dorm at Barnhart to the opposite corner of the U of O campus or trek 20+ blocks in downtown Portland on work errands, an umbrella is truly a MUST.

5 thoughts on “Seize the Day, Rain or Shine

  1. I love Blondo boots, too! Enjoying your blog muchly… I have always preferred poetry to prose; glad you came to the light (ha). Interesting that one so young feels the hand of time already – guess like Keats, as you note. Have you started a bucket list?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I’m really glad you’re enjoying it! 😊 I think being a lifelong reader can make one more conscious of time, in a sense. I love studying history and the classics, and considering how much time has passed since those eras has always made me ponder the scope of one’s lifetime and the timeless recurring themes that exist throughout literature.

      I do have a bucket list, and last year I was really fortunate to be able to check off several things (watching a Shakespeare play at the Globe in London, dinner on the Eiffel Tower, visiting Versailles). There’s still plenty left on my list of course—off the top of my head, I really want to skate at Rockefeller Center at Christmastime and go back to Barcelona when Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is completed. I also have a book bucket list— I want to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, for example, but it’s SO LONG that I haven’t taken that plunge yet. One day 😉

      Like

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