Autobiography in five chapters

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost . . . I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes forever to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

~ Portia Nelson

hole

Questions before dark

“Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?”

~ Jeanne Lohmann

Dusk-River

Breaking all the rules

“There are moments when rules are meant to be broken; when bursting out of context is the sole way to see with new eyes. There are fences built only to be torn down. The slats look solid, but no one drove the nails in tight. There are barricades around the heart asking to be breached. Sooner or later we all run out of excuses for staying small and safe.” ~ Danna Faulds

whitePicketFence-1

To begin

“Beginning well or beginning poorly, what is important is simply to begin, but the ability to make a good beginning is also an art form, beginning well involves a courageous clearing away of the confusing, the cluttered and the complicated to find the beautiful, often hidden lineaments of the essential and the necessary.

Beginning is difficult, and our procrastination is a fine, ever-present measure of our reluctance in taking that first close-in, courageous step to reclaiming our happiness. Perhaps, because taking a new step always begins from the central foundational core of the body and leads to an equally physical, radical and internal simplification; where, suddenly, very large parts of us, parts of us we have kept gainfully employed for years, parts of us still rehearsing the old complicated story, are suddenly out of a job. There occurs in effect, a form of internal corporate downsizing, where the parts of us too afraid to participate or having nothing new to offer, are let go, with all of the accompanying death-like trauma. In effect we must sit by the death bed of our own old, now departing wishes and come to the new step, learning that this new, less complicated self, and this very simple step, is all that is needed for the new possibilities ahead.

It is always hard to believe that the courageous step is so close to us, that it is closer than we ever could imagine, that in fact, we already know what it is, and that the step is simpler, more radical than we had thought: which is why we so often prefer to live in an almost world, why we prefer the story to be more elaborate, our identities to be safely clouded by fear, why we want the horizon to remain always in the distance, the promise never fully and simply made, the essay longer than it needs to be and the answer safely in the realm of impossibility.”

~ David Whyte From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

-stepping-stones

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

“Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

~ Mary Oliver – from Why I Wake Early (2004)

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