This evening, the sturdy Levis
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end in perfect condition,
How or why I don’t know,
but there it was—a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into his street clothes,
& half-way home collapsed & died.
Take heed you who read this
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart
& kiss the earth & be joyful
& make much of your time
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe it will happen,
you too will one day be gone.
I, whose Levis ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.
I first thought of the title Notice as a notification, the type you might see pinned on a bulletin board or telephone pole, but then it struck me that this could be an imperative to pay attention, to notice this moment in your life. I expect most people have owned, if not brand-name Levis, at least well worn jeans that soften with age and washings. And though they seem in perfect condition, there comes a point when How or why I don’t know, there is a sudden irrevocable rip.
Then we hear the story of the poet’s friend Nick after a racquetball game, who showered, changed, & half-way home collapsed & died. These things do happen and we shake our heads, and feel perhaps a guilty gratitude that it was not our turn. Take heed he demands, take notice & drop to your knees now & again, be humble and grateful to be alive. This is a reminder that the time of death is uncertain, so kiss the earth & be joyful / & make much of your time / & be kindly to everyone.
It is clear that the poet was woken up to his life by the sudden death of his friend, and wants others to get the message too. For although you may not believe it will happen, / you too will one day be gone. Just like those jeans that seemed to the end in perfect condition, our bodies too will wear out, so we must be joyful and kindly and use our time well. As the poet says, Pass it on.