"To Stay Our Minds on
and Be Staid" (from "What's Up", October 2001)
I spent this weekend, September
22-23, in Westport, Connecticut—my first time out of New York City since the
attack. It was good to step away for a while from the overwhelming reminders of
the recent events, yet it was no great respite from turmoil: apart from worry
about what may happen next, I was helping my mother prepare to move out of the
house that I grew up in and that has been a fixture in our family for 40 years.
In what was likely the last evening I will ever spend there, I stepped outside
for a few minutes, and despite considerable cloud and haze, I glimpsed—in
between the oaks—Vega, Cygnus, the top of the Great Square, Andromeda,
Cassiopeia, Aries, a rising Capella, and last of all, Perseus. These old friends
still shine faithfully amid the shifting landscapes of our lives and times, just as they
have for untold thousands of years. At times like this, we can heed the words of Robert Frost: …We may
choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid.