While there is specificity in Mimi’s poem that relates to her work life, the struggles and sentiments she expresses transcend the particular.

Mimi Simmons, Washington State

Thanks for the invitation via your latest post to share how we’re coping. Yes, we are still wearing our masks in public and only socializing with small groups of trusted, vaxxed and boosted others. We have avoided getting Covid and hope to keep it that way. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have eaten in a restaurant only once and that was outdoors. We have traveled only once, this summer to see our daughter. Despite these restrictions, we enjoy and appreciate our lives, finding many delightful ways to occupy our time and fill our hearts. It’s our mission to stay as balanced and healthy as we can.

When I thought about how to describe my status, I thought of a poem I wrote in 1999, long before I retired. I have included it below.

As the poem says, It could happen. Currently, that it could be so many things. Despite the courageous fight to save our democracy that so many are engaged in, we could lose it. Climate change could destroy the earth and our lives as we’ve known them. Some disturbed person could open fire on a crowd and kill us. 

While I feel sadness at all the loss and compassion for all the suffering, I return to joy whenever I can. So many people are doing great things in the service of each other and our world. Their efforts may or may not be enough but they’re worth honoring. I could die tomorrow. Or anytime. I choose to spend whatever precious time I have living in as much love, joy and peace as possible. From my poem: I will not waste myself on gloom. Gloom is different from sadness and grieving. Sadness and grieving are part of the human process. Both are best felt and moved through. 

Again, thanks for asking. It was useful for me to reflect and take a new look at this old poem.


I appreciate this place
this work and these people
but sometimes
it wears me down.

How can it all get done?
Is it even possible?

In this state
I can’t take the news,
music is too much
and silence too quiet.

Sleep helps,
but morning comes too soon.
Heavily I return,
thick gray moving with me
back into the building.

In the parking lot I see them,
words that change me.

Live as though
you’ll die tomorrow,
farm as though
you’ll live forever.

It could happen, I think,
and a spark ignites.
Quickly it spreads to anger.
I will not waste myself on this gloom,
my last 24 hours!

And the passion is back,
followed by familiar joy.

The work is again lighter,
but not always easy.
We lose our fathers
and our innocent illusions
of honesty and trust.

But we keep coming back
to the work we care about
and again we are filled
by the love in our lives.
We share the stories,
the lessons. Embrace.

Not all workers have that,
so I cherish this place
and work that matters.

And when the gray returns,
I remember that joy can follow
and I look for the sights
that bring it back.
A canopy of birds,
a bumper sticker.

1 Comment

  1. I was so pleased to read the very positive, yet realistic, perspective that Mimi displays in both her prose and poetic entries here. I shall come back to read this whenever I feel the gloom of others reaching out its tentacles to me. Thank you, Mimi, for sharing your way of looking at life, and thank you, Ruth, for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

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