In darkness and frustration, belonging matters

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
enough
to truly consecrate the hour.

I am much too small in this world, yet not small
enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.

I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.

I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.

I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everyday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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We do know how to deal with the unknown

When I listen to the news and the financial commentaries, I am still struck by the lack of useful information on the financial crisis.  We are told no one knows what has happened, what is happening, or what to do.   We are told there are no examples in history to instruct us.

This is not true.

Arriving at a place where we are both disoriented and scared-to-death by the challenges we face is as old as time.

David Whyte, corporate poet, reminds us of a line from Dante’s Inferno.

In the middle of the road of my life I awoke in the dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.

Could we persuade David Whyte to make a series of broadcasts about dealing with junctures in our lives when we are lost, alone and scared?

Until then, I recommend David Whyte’s CD Mid-Life and the Great Unknown.  It’s good to listen to in the car and on the train.

Come with me!

We do know how to deal with the unknown.  Spread the word!  We do know how to deal with the unknown.

UPDATE:  I posted today about Karl Weick’s ideas about systems that spin out of control. If I have understood him correctly, to understand the unknown, we have to  “leap in order to look”.  Action is critical to knowing.  If we want to understand something we have to act on it!

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“Go get your things. Dreams mean work”

I discovered Paulo Coelho this year. I am amazed I spent this long on this earth without finding his books.

His stories have mystical settings. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is about a woman and her childhood sweetheart who meet up again in their twenties to make a hard decision: should they get together or should he follow his vocation into a Catholic seminary and a life as charismatic and healer?

All Coelho’s books (I think) have a happy ending, but not a silly ending.   After many trials, the protagonists resolve to take the high road: living in solidarity with this world. These may be mystical stories, but they are neither fantasies nor escapist.

And the trials faced by the characters are never gratuitous. Each in itself offers a perspective on relating to the world and, I think, the tension between commitment and uncertainty.

They are a remarkably “open” read too. He has a light style that draws you into the story. And then releases you from time to time to ponder what he or one of his characters has just said.

Wikipedia describes the book as “a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens”. Read it at the end of a long week to ponder extraordinary people who live ordinary lives.