No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.

As I was driving home Wednesday afternoon, red-eyed and exhausted from saying goodbye at my last day of work at Babson, I heard someone on the radio talk about the Pauli exclusion principle. (Yes, I listen to discussions of quantum theory on my long commutes). No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.

The spiritual side of this theory is that you can’t heal if you’re stuck in a rut. We have to move, and keep moving, to grow. Our bodies—our muscles in particular—are made to tear and repair. That’s how we build muscle mass. We are made to do the hard work of healing, and as a result, we get stronger. Maybe this is why Mark Strand’s poem “Keeping Things Whole” is a touchstone for me.

Fast forward to Friday. I wake up, get the kids off to school, and go to the gym for the first time in weeks (and find out that I haven’t gained any weight since the last time I checked—woo hoo!). I met my friend Colleen for morning tea. Then off to Salem State to do some work and attend a faculty lunch. And later, I attend two Mass Poetry Festival meetings, after which I feel completely weighted down. Yet, I come home completely satisfied. Dare I say it? Whole.

Keeping Things Whole
In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

~ from Selected Poems by Mark Strand. Copyright © 1980 by Mark Strand


Sandy Longhorn said…
January, thanks for sharing your journey through this transition, and many congrats for coming out whole on the other side.
Anonymous said…
I recently read Mark Strand's "Old Age of Nostalgia"
(NY Review of Books, 11/10/11). I thought it one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read. (You may have to be of a certain age to appreciate it fully.)
carolee said…
yes, no two objects at the same time. have to let one go. i know it well, but didn't know it had a name. well, at least not a principle. :)
Nin Andrews said…
Beautiful poem! Beautiful post!
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