I’m recovering from toxic doses of the world is too much with us. You know, like in the William Wordsworth poem –
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune,
It moves us not. — Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
I remember the snippet, “The world is too much with us,” like I remember “Let not your heart be troubled,” both things my mother would say at various times to comfort me or herself, it was never clear which. She never went into more detail and for a long time I thought those were just standalone sayings until I Googled “Let not your heart be troubled” and found the rest of the verse in the Bible (John 14:1-3) so I could read it at my mother’s funeral which I ended up not doing although I held the Bible in my hand with my finger marking the place in case I thought I could do it but it ended up that I couldn’t.
It was okay though because it was just the first part that had true meaning to me – her telling me not to let my heart be troubled – and then other times saying to herself or the air or to me that there was just too much going on in the world for a person to bear. For her this could have meant anything – she had a deep and intricate internal life that was secret to me, certainly, and probably to everyone. So it didn’t take too much for the world to be too much with my mother. It takes a lot more for the world to be too much with me.
The remedy to all this too-muchness is as it was for Wordsworth. Being outside, being in the natural world. My mother translated this into laying in the blazing sun for hours on end, day after August day. I thought she was nuts at the time, actually for a long time, but now I’m figuring out that the scorching heat of the summer sun was her own private balm. So much of life is about reframing.
I realize that I feel good tonight. The world isn’t too much with me. The long walk along Lake Superior is with me, the sliding of the screen door is with me, the wind from the northwest is with me, and the roadside daisies are with me. My balm.
All is pretty well. All is well enough.