Today at Trader Joe’s, gazing blankly out the window as I was waiting in line, I eventually realized that the hazy quality of the light outdoors was not just some skyscraper shadow leaning over or an alien craft landing. Nope. It was rain. Amount of rain bucketing down from the sky: fathoms. Amount of rain gear we had with us: zero. Number of strollers I had the foresight to bring with us: you guessed it. Zero.
As I raked my eyes back toward the cart to see how much trouble I was in, I caught sight of one of the greeting cards lining the wall near the customer herding pens. It showed children dressed in bright colored clothing gambling I the grass. “Oh the wild joys of living!” It read across the top.
I doubt Robert Browning ever had to drag two overstuffed paper bags and two unhurried little boys home in the rain from Trader Joe’s. If he had had to perform such miracles, his time to write 19 stanzas of opaque poetry would have been somewhat more limited. Now that I have done it, “wild joys” is not a phrase I find particularly applicable to the task.
As we rowed home, though, I found it useful to keep muttering it to myself. As the paper bags began to disintegrate in my hands, “oh the wild $&@/&/$ing joys of living” I told myself. And again as I watched the boys soak their feet gleefully wading through filthy puddles, “oh! The wild joys of living.” Perhaps the power of words lies not in their content, but their intent.