A long time ago Pat Kelly gave me a book of poetry—THE POEMS OF DR. ZHIVAGO—and inscribed it with the words, "I never knew November could be so beautiful." We were young, living in an era of great change, and Pasternak's novel and the movie based on it reflected for us the requirements of such times of upheaval and hope. I imagined these to have been the Lara Poems, written by candlelight in the chill of a Russian winter, a preamble to an approaching sacrifice. Much needs to be surrendered in such times.
He had underlined some bits:
The heroic life is the root of beauty,
And it draws together you and me.
This morning I contemplate those lines and realize that Pat and I took them as a creed. We lived together a November life. To see this month as beautiful one needs an eye and heart for sparse design, subtle color, with only the occasional flash of brilliance. It is a time of going down into the darkness which as the poet says "shall be the darkness of God." But you don't know that as the twilight deepens into night.
I'm not sad, please don't think so. I've simply reached the age of pondering the fragments of life, seeing how they fit into a pattern of paradox. My memories of Pat Kelly are bitter-sweet, always paradoxical, and I've struggled with them over the many years since he died. It's only after seeing the paradox that one realizes how simple and how obvious it all was all along. And it's November again when we remember those heroic souls, especially our family and friends, who surrendered everything like the trees surrender leaves, and went before us into Beauty that's Eternal.