A thought of this sort tends to focus your attention. After the initial dismay and wonderment pass ("where did all those years go?"), you may develop a new sense of what is important, what is not. There is certainly no reason to brood over what is unchangeable: a boundary has been set. So be it. No need to mourn. At the same time, a feeling of freedom arrives. And that which is extraneous begins to drop away, day by day. Vistas open up. After all, why not live?
The Traveler's Moon
A traveler has come from south of the Yangtze;
when he set out, the moon was a mere crescent.
During the long long stages of his journey
three times he saw its clear light rounded.
At dawn he followed a setting moon,
evenings lodged with a moon newly risen.
Who says the moon has no heart?
A thousand long miles it's followed me.
This morning I set out from Wei River Bridge,
by evening had entered the streets of Ch'ang-an.
And now I wonder about the moon --
whose house will that traveler put up at tonight?
Po Chü-i (772-846) (translated by Burton Watson), in Po Chü-i, Selected Poems (Columbia University Press 2000), page 109.
Harald Sohlberg (1869-1935), "Night" (1904)
Each morning, I read a poem to start the day. One morning this past week I read "The Traveler's Moon." After doing so, a Japanese waka came immediately to mind. Or at least the gist of it. I went to one of my bookshelves, and found it where I suspected it was.
Down from the mountain,
And when I opened the gate,
The moon too entered.
Kotomichi (1798-1868) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 388.
Kotomichi's poem has stayed with me since the day I first read it. How lovely it was to now discover Po Chü-i's poem, and to have the both of them together, paired, for the rest of my life. At around 8:30 in the morning, my day was already overflowing. I read no more poems that day. The two poems deserved to be left alone. I was content to let them sit. I am easy to please.
Harald Sohlberg, "Flower Meadow in the North" (1905)