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Category: Poetry

. . .unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket. . .

Dear Benedict XVI: I want to be free, and ride my bike into the sunset! by Ed Yourdon via FlickrDavid Whyte

The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.

These are the words of contemporary poet, David Whyte, quoting his associate, Benedictine monk, Brother David.

Whatever you plan is to small for you live.

Charles Bukowski

Says the same but in his inimitable harsher style.

So You Want To Be A Writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Trust what you will do wholeheartedly?

Do you have the patience to do what you can be bothered to do wholeheartedly?

I don’t always but I am glad when I do.

Think you are bound hand-and-foot to task you have to do, should do, and nevertheless hate doing?

Try this exercise. Nightly, add to your gratitude diary a line on

Style. The style you wrote to your life today.

Simplicity. An activity you conducted with aplomb and elegance (or more than you do usually).

Story.  Re-write the story of your day in a few lines with you in charge being the person you want to be (I designed this for employees turned entrepreneurs – put your employee story aside and write as an entrepreneur and business owner.)

Simultaneity. Note when you panicked about living wholeheartedly and ask why you cannot make your choice and act your choice at exactly the same time (the way an owner must make a business decision and take the fame or blame or whatever).

Is this impatience?  Hmm.  I don’t thinks so.  It’s just stopping our storyline wandering off into impatience.  And we begin to trust the world a little more.

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Talk of peace will avail you naught

Parveen Shakir

Be overflowing with peace and joy,

and scatter them wherever you are

and wherever you go.

Be a blazing fire of truth,

be a beauteous blossom of love

and be a soothing balm of peace.

With your spiritual light,

dispel the darkness of ignorance;

dissolve the clouds of discord and war

and spread goodwill, peace, and harmony among the people.

This is your mission, to serve the people .  .  .  .

Actions not words

Let us write of each other rather than about each other.  Let’s be social. Let our thinking be collaboration?

Links and copyright

I would like to add proper links here including links to book sales or the representatives of Parveen Shakir‘s estate.  Anyone?



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Oh! The roots of postive organizational scholarship in Henry Thoreau and American transcendentalism

Sept2010 by anjanettew via FlickrWalden Pond .   .   .

I had to rummage around on Wikipedia to disentangle my memory traces.  Walden Pond is the home of Henry Thoreau, the American poet.   On Golden Pond is a Fonda movie.

Henry Thoreau .   .  .

I am sure that all well brought up Americans have read Thoreau in the original. The rest of us come to him by the way of quotations.

Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows .  .  .

Henry Thoreau was an “transcendentalist”, which Wikipedia informs me was a New England movement in reaction to the intellectualism of Harvard and the utilitarian church.  To my naïve ears, this sounds like the basic thrust of the French Revolution that rejected the supremacy of priests and their dictates,.  Once we have rejected the priests as the authority in all things, we needed a way to think about secular authority         and social sciences and psychology arose as formalized ways of describing how we each discover our own truth (Remember the Pope anyone?  Not surprisingly, he is not enthused by this venture.)

Transcendentalism underpins much of contemporary positive organizational scholarship

This is an important read.  We see here the essence of dominant aspects of American culture and at least part of the foundations of positive psychology.

Ralph Emerson, I believe, was one of the early proponents.

“So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes.

It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth?

And of the affections, — What is good?

By yielding itself passive to the educated Will. .  .

Build, therefore, your own world.

As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions.

A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.”

As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions.

A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.

We bring about the world by what we attend to and value.  The world blossoms under the attention of what we value and love.  Whatever situation we are in (like it or not), we move in the direction of the questions we ask and so does it.

This is more appreciative inquiry (Case Western) than positive psychology (Pennsylvania).

It is the start point and as you read the now not so young Thoreau describing his life at Walden Pond, you hear the same complaints that we have about life today.  You hear the echoes of Joseph Campbell who followed a similar experiment with life. You hear British poet David Whyte who reconciled his life a marine biologist and NGO worker with is poetry.  You hear Gen Y Tim Ferris and The Four Hour Work Week.

I am enjoying this!

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3 quotations on mindfulness and action

A good year ago I jotted down these three quotations.  Then I abandoned the draft. Now I am tidying up my blog, I wonder, what was going through my mind that day.

David Whyte on the willfulness of the world

And I thought this is the good day you could meet your love, this is the black day someone close to you could die.

~ David Whyte from The House of Belonging in River Flow, p. 7.

Was I thinking about the essential unknow-ability of the world and importance of living in the world as it unfolds and both tempts us and taunts us?

Goethe on the universe conspiring to help us

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

~ Goethe

Was I thinking about the need to be active and the magic that happens when we cross the Rubicon and move towards irrevocably towards what we want?

Isaac Newton on following our dreams in the large world around us

I don’t know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

~ Isaac Newton

Was I thinking about the impossibility of understanding the universe yet finding a corner within it where we live our lives heroically and magnificently?

What sense was I making about mindfulness and action?

Did I come to the conclusion that world likes us to engage quite forthrightly following our interests yet understanding that others will be doing so too? Did I come to the conclusion that life promises us nothing yet demands our full attention?  Did I come to the conclusion that we will always be significant yet what we do is important?

Did I come to the conclusion that is OK to ask and the world loves us for it? Did I come to the conclusion that it is OK to be small ~ we all are?

What was I thinking that day?


Your frontiers

David Whyte takes about finding the frontiers of your life: the place where you face the unknown in an expansive way. I like the correspondence with Paulo Coehlo‘s horizon.

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Discovering poetry: Shel Silverstein

StumbleUpon kindly threw up this freeform poem of Shel Silverstein. I haven’t read him before. I particularly like What If as a poem for the incorrigibly anxious, and God’s Wheel, for the incorrigibly stable!

For the anxious and catastrophizing

What if

by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some What ifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old What if song:
What if I’m dumb in school?
What if they’ve closed the swimming pool?
What if I get beat up?
What if there’s poison in my cup?
What if I start to cry?
What if I get sick and die?
What if I flunk that test?
What if green hair grows on my chest?
What if nobody likes me?
What if a bolt of lightning strikes me?
What if I don’t grow tall?
What if my head starts getting smaller?
What if the fish won’t bite?
What if the wind tears up my kite?
What if they start a war?
What if my parents get divorced?
What if the bus is late?
What if my teeth don’t grow in straight?
What if I tear my pants?
What if I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the night time What ifs strike again!

For the incorrigibly complacent

God’s Wheel

by Shel Silverstein

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, “Hey how would you like
to be God awhile

And steer the world?”
“Okay,” says I, “I’ll give it a try.Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?””Gimme back that wheel,” says GOD.
“I don’t think you’re quite ready YET.”


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David Whyte

David Whyte :  Born in Yorkshire, of Irish descent, David Whyte is a marine biologist, NGO worker, turned poet who writes about our relationship with work

He is a little guarded about his poetry but you can find  odd snippets on the web. If you haven’t encountered his work, I recommend you buy his CD, Midlife and the Great Unknown.

I’ve added a link to his wide range of works on Amazon and listed other posts on this blog related to his work.


Your frontiers

How our earlier training as psychologists inhibits our understanding of positive psychology

Priorities and goals

The Desiderata

Importance of recreation

Tough concepts in positive psychology: Whose competence is being tested in an interview

Deciding what to do is the hard part. Doing it is the easy part

Hope and the great chasm

Synergy is undervalued

Putting Humpty back together again is the psychologist’s challenge

The Sun – David Whyte


Is this a new poem by David Whyte?

Great quotations

Distance lends enchantment to the view

Consider your career shift this weekend!

David Whyte on YouTube

5 poetic steps for exiting a Catch 22!

5 point comparison of Hero’s Journey, Appreciative Inquiry, and Positive Psychology

4 steps to defining the work of a positive, playful, work psychologist!

Is engendering curiosity a pertinent goal for positive psychology?

The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness

Buzzing with expectation

Uni degree.  Then what?

Essential HR in the recession

Psychologists, 2009AD, recession, life

Frazzled? Get a one line job description

Where will you be when this recession ends?

Awakening: A new era begins

We do know how to deal with the unknown

Poets advice for surviving the financial crisis

From anger to effective action

Overcome your fear in 3 steps

3 steps when goals seem out of our reach

3 steps to head off burnout

UPDATE:  I’m happy to add some downloads here linking the poetry, particularly of David Whyte, to contemporary management. Removed.

I am currently reading The Heart Aroused.  I really recommend it as a an overview of modern views on management.  If you mean to get into positive organizational scholarship or positive psychology or the Edge Economy and networked competing supply chains, crowd-sourced solutions and cognitive surplus, you need to read this book.

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