Feast on your life.

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Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

I first read this poem in the preface to The Time Traveler’s Wife, my second-favorite book of all time (after The Sun Also Rises).

Many relate this poem to rediscovering one’s cultural identity, as Walcott did in his native St. Lucia and Trinidad.  Others, in a more literal interpretation, point to his failed marriages.

But to me, this is a poem for travelers.

We set out to see the world, defying convention, for no reason other than satisfying our insatiable desires.  Some call us selfish for this reason.

But who will be there with you at the end of the day?  Who will always be with you, no matter what?

Don’t get me wrong — if you find a partner, you’re very lucky.  But nobody can love you as much as you can love yourself.

So many of us live our lives for others, for things, for anything other than ourselves.  Over time, we gradually realize that we aren’t nurturing that which needs the most nurturing of all: our souls.

Answering the call to travel is a way to begin peeling back that layer.

Heed the call.  Dive in.  Nurture your soul — and soon you will be sitting at your own kitchen table, feasting on a meal for the ages.

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22 thoughts on “Feast on your life.”

  1. Two of my favorite novels (Not sure where they are on my list, but they are up there.) I am so fascinated by how you linked the poem to travelers. I had to break out my copy of the book and see it for myself.

    Written very poetically, like the poem itself. Couldn’t agree more. I fell in love with myself this year after years of playing hard to get. Excellent post!

    1. Thanks so much, Teresa! I’m glad you liked it. And I love that line: “I fell in love with myself this year after years of playing hard to get.”

      To be honest, I thought that the poem didn’t really fit with the book. Clare was never able to see herself or her life outside the context of Henry. Not that that took anything away from the book…the story was still incredible. It just seemed like an odd choice.

  2. To be honest, I was not a fan of the Time Traveler’s Wife (the movie, I never read the book) But I do appreciate the poem. I see how it relates, but I also agree it relates to travel and travelers.

    I also believe you need to love yourself, before you can really love anyone else. Thanks for posting it.

    stay adventurous,

    1. Oh, Craig, you have to read the book! The movie was a DISASTER — it took an amazing book and transformed it into NICHOLAS SPARKS CRAP, featuring the most boring couple ever. In the book, Henry and Clare are the couple you wish you were friends with in real life. If done right, The Time Traveler’s Wife could have been the next Titanic. In a good way.

      Glad you liked the poem!

  3. At the end of the day you only have yourself. Although, finding your inner self is not always an easy path and so we wander though those that are less traveled.

    I’m in love with this poem and couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Very happy to read this post. I sometimes feel “selfish” in my travels, even though my family comes with me 99% of the time. I am pretty sure my young children enjoy the travels we take and I do it for them as well because growing up my parents went NO WHERE! They are home bodies and are proudly so. Everyone has that one thing that does nuture the soul and make them feel good, and for me that’s traveling.

  5. It’s amazing to think how many people go through life never really knowing or respecting the person that never leaves their side. Some people can’t stand to be alone because they are not comfortable with their own company.
    You must first love yourself before you are good to anyone. Why do you think the safety rule on the plane is to first put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help anyone else, including your children.
    Travel has given myself so much, so now I have so much to give to others

  6. This is truly wonderful! I said it on twitter, “cannot amen it enough” and there it is again. Truly great post.

    I have read the book and I have seen the movie, and I still cannot 100% agree that the Time Travelers Wife is that good. But it’s not so important as I can certainly appreciate the idea of love’s power and most of all how loving oneself is the start to a full and truly meaningful life. I agree that all things being equal – all we are guaranteed is the company of ourselves. If we cannot be happy alone, I’m not sure we can be happy with others. For me too, travel is necessary to happiness. And if that’s selfish, I don’t mind being selfish then!

    And yes, the poem I do truly love and ranks amongst my favorite of all poems ever written.

    1. I’m glad! What a great poem…I love it, too. And it is SO important to learn to love your own company. My last relationship ended in part because he couldn’t understand why I’d ever want to spend time by myself. I NEED that — quite often.

  7. You know what, having read the book several times (it’s one of my favourite too!) I can see how the entire story is resonating with metaphors relating to the ordinary traveller. But the poem more than the novel itself, I guess, highlights how it is fundamentally yourself that you should love.

    This powerful scene from AngelA really does sum it up: https://youtube.com/watch?v=xY8-8KtxfkI

    @ Craig: the film adaptation was an abomination. The book is ingenious, gorgeously written, and deservedly emotional unlike that melodramatic cheese the movie oozes.

  8. Agreed, agreed, and agreed! I love how you equate these words to a traveler’s life. Much of travel is by yourself and if you don’t embrace who you are and peruse what you want, it will be a hard life on the road. I have never read the book but I will have to check it out.

  9. I love this post! Thank you – it’s just what I needed today 🙂 (I love both those books too- but didn’t pay too much attention to poem before – it’s beautiful)

  10. “Answering the call to travel is a way to begin peeling back that layer.”

    Oh, you said it girl. And that’s a fantastic poem. I instantly get a mental image of the “old me” who began her travels a year ago. She’s much different than the “current me” who is still on the road. I feel emboldened to let the two share a long talk and see what they can teach one another.

    Thanks for sharing this, Kate…



  11. Thank you Kate.

    I am in Tokyo, reading a translation of TTW, rediscovering a book that had helped me at what was the hardest point in my life (losing a loved one). I’ve found a new beauty in reading this poem in a new language, with more mature eyes. Appreciating it more than I could the first time around in English, eleven years ago.

    I have also lived in four countries, traveling to escape a world where I didn’t fit in. I agree with you that sometimes we need to search the world to find that doorway or that mirror, sit there and greet that unlikeliest of people. That old friend, the stranger that was ourselves.


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