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Tag: poetry

Do you need to say more than this poet?

Walk into the future by Suwaif via FlickrThe Awakening

Enough

A time comes in your life when you finally get it…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH!

Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on.

Your Awakening

Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening.

Acceptance

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon. You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you . . . and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are . . . and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

A sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself . . . and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval. You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself . . . and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

Forgive

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties . . . and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

Be true to yourself and others

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

The only cross you bear is the one you choose to carry

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

Your body really is your temple

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You get what you believe you deserve

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

Step right into and through your fears

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn to build bridges when others build walls

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people . . . and you learn not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You explore your negative feelings rather than hang onto them

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

And revel in your positive feelings however small

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Promise never to betray yourself and act the way you think appropriate no matter the provocation

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

Begin to design the life you want to live as best you can

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.

Author Unknown

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Courage and mindfulness

Fragilite by alibaba0 via FlickrToday, Paolo Coelho, as ever, said something both wise and challenging.

“Creativity is a courageous act.  Avoid opinions.”

It was certainly challenging to me.  I use this blog as a filing cabinet to keep my notes as I think out the connections between the things I am reading, thinking and doing.

It is a rag bag, yet it has worked out well. A few loyal readers make it sociable too.

But I’ve begun to tire of having opinions partly because I live and work in worlds where opinions are ten a penny (and that is saying something as it is very difficult to buy any thing in UK for less than very many pennies).  Like a toddler grabbing at an animal, we voice our opinions for the pleasure of feeling powerful and with reckless disregard of any damage we might do to anyone else or ourselves.

Courage comes from anticipating consequences.  Courage comes from understanding that to do right we might also do wrong, at least in some parts of our lives and the lives of others.  Courage comes from seeing through whatever we start and working through what we start to its natural end.  And sometimes courage leads us not to start at all, not out of cowardice, but because it is clear our act is just a worthless opinion and as self-indulgent as  a a small child handling an animal roughly.

It’s perhaps a feature of ‘mindfulness’ to be aware of the impact we have on the world and to act connectedly, and sometimes not to act because we realize our act is disconnected and minimally noise and potentially destructive.

Mindfulness and courage.  Do they go together?

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Build your castles in the air ~ where they should be

Welcome to my kingdom by williamcho via Flickr“If you have built castles in the sky, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau
  • A tribute to following your dreams, your deepest longings, your soul
  • A metaphor for the relationship between your soul and your personality that is seen by the world
  • An exhortation to take small practical steps in the world in which you find yourself
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Who knows if there will be another dawn? Tonight we can be what the gods are!

Tonight

Do not strike the chord of sorrow tonight!
Days burning with pain turn to ashes.
Who knows what happens tomorrow?
Last night is lost; tomorrow’s frontier wiped out:
Who knows if there will be another dawn?
Life is nothing, it’s only tonight!
Tonight we can be what the gods are!

Do not strike the chord of sorrow, tonight!
Do not repeat stories of sufferings now,
Do not complain, let your fate play its role,
Do not think of tomorrows, give a damn–
Shed no tears for seasons gone by,
All sighs and cries wind up their tales,
Oh, do not strike the same chord again!

Faiz Ahmad Faiz

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Let the energy drip into your heart

Sometimes my heart feels like a solid rock.

Time to step back and ask if I am going in the wrong direction?  Life shouldn’t be this hard.

“The world is made to be free in.”  David Whyte

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If. . . We wouldn’t be We

If

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,

And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,

Life would be delight,–

But things couldn’t go right

For in such a sad plight

I wouldn’t be I.

 

If earth was heaven and now was hence,

And past was present, and false was true,

There might be some sense

But I’d be in suspense

For on such a pretense

You wouldn’t be you.

 

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,

And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee

Things would seem fair,–

Yet they’d all despair,

For if here was there

We wouldn’t be we.

E.E. Cummings

Teaching the challenges of morality

I’ve spent a lot of my life teaching young adults.  Every subject begins with teaching “declarative knowledge”, the labels for things, the things that can be tested with multiple choice.  Then we move on to “procedural knowledge”, getting our hands dirty, and the things you can only know if you have done the job yourself.  It is here that morality arrives.  We have to consider consequences.  And we have to consider that we will not always be “right”.

Let me explain with two extreme moral positions

At school, a friend of mine didn’t  like putting sulphuric acid on zinc chips  She was convinced that she could hear them squeal with pain.  That is one extreme.  She saw consequences which others did not see.

In social sciences, we are required to fill in forms in lieu of considering ethics.  We even go to great lengths to remove the effects of what we do from experiments. That is the other extreme.  We pretend, indeed we are required to pretend that we are not acting in our self-interest and that our actions have no impact on the world.

The world in flowing motion

Of course, all this is a nonsense. Everything we do affects the people we do it with.  And we are affected in turn.

This is the lesson that students should learn.  They need to learn to listen and to understand how other people are affected by their even seemingly innocuous actions.

And yet moral choices are not ‘pc’ or paralysing

And then they must decide. The students must decide.  Are they going to act anyway, and why?

Students find it hard to accept that moral choices don’t leave us feeling good

Somewhere buried in there is a hard lesson of life – that are our actions and circumstances don’t always reflect well on us ~ and that we are never comfortable with that.  But that is a good thing.  The day that we are uncomfortable with the uncomfortable,  then we have lost it.  We should feel bad about bad stuff.

But we also have to make choices despite the fact we are not going to feel good.

But feeling bad is shared and it important to recognize that the bad feelings are both valid and shared

I like that Cummings ends with We wouldn’t be we.  Because the journey that brought us together into this uncomfortable place is our shared journey.  Our discomfort is a product of our shared journey.

I may not like that I am in this bad place with you, but I am.   That cannot be denied.  And I have to act anyway.  Just as you do.  I just try to act thoughftully, knowledgeably, fairly.  Often I don’t even achieve that, but I try.

And that I act does not deny that all this is bad.  It’s bad.  I act.  That is.

And that it is bad does not change that tomorrow may not be bad.  With you or without you.  That is, too.  It just is.

And to pretend that we don’t have agonizing choices to make denies that We are We. That is bad.  Very bad.  That is much worse than the lousy circumstances and awful decisions.  The worst thing we can do is deny that We are We.

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The greatest privilege of a lifetime is to be ourselves

Take a journey in your life

journeys bring power and love back into you.

if you can’t go somewhere

move in the passageways of the self

they are like shafts of light,

always changing,

and you change when you explore them

Rumi

Be not the traveller who takes their world with them

I caught something interesting on BBC4 yesterday.

Two travellors were walking all day, around the Cape Town area as it happened.  They were tired and very hungry.  One said to the other:  I must eat lest I faint.

The other said:  I am hungry too.  But I don’t find it uncomfortable.  I find it interesting.

The first travellor thought:  If he does not feel his own hunger, then how can he feel the hunger of another.

For some of us, entering into the moment is hard.  We watch.  We observe.  Even when we are abroad, we are distant from our our own emotions and feelings.   We travel, yet never experience anything new because we cannot leave our world’s behind.

Be the privileged who travels at home

It’s an interesting idea then to simply explore the passageways of the self.

Be like the first travellor who engages directly with the world and listens for its response?

Be the poet who describes his life and changes his poem as he reads it to his audience?

Riff rather pontificate?

Accept the demands of the moment and our response?  Perceive the limitations of others as part of the situation.  And act?

As Joseph Campbell said:  The greatest privilege of a life time is to be ourselves.

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The ups and downs of the Hero’s story

When your story, which genre do you use?

Are you the Hero?

Were you rollicking along quite happily when an unexpected call for your attention, effort and skills arrived out-of-the blue?

Did you hesitate but eventually relent?

Was your journey rocky at moments, yet in quite surprising ways, did the world come out to help you?

Did you triumph eventually, though most of the time you thought you would fail, horribly?

Did you come home at last, and sadly find an unappreciative audience?

You might be a Villain of course

You were rollicking along quite happily doing your thing when, suddenly, you had a chance to do something, well, not so honest, pleasant or fair to advance your cause?  And you took your chance.  You succeeded wonderfully.  You have the champagne and fast car to prove it but you will never be a push-over again?

Or you might be a Tragic Victim

You weren’t rollicking along quite happily and you got the call for your attention anyway.  And it was a pain in the rear end.  And it all went badly.  As it always does.

Do you prefer the Hero story?

We tell all three stories but it seems that we like the first best.  We like the scary Hero story which comes out OK in the end.

But it is very scary along the way.

1  Refusal of the call

We no more want to accept the call than we want to get up at 5am on a Sunday morning.  Our creature comforts are important to us.   But equally we are glad, pretty much as we do when we are up and about before sunrise. Our horizons widen and we feel vital and alive.  It’s a viseral thing.  It’s not scientific or measured by a questionnaire. It’s visceral.   We feel our pulse quicken.  We feel engaged.  We feel that we are living.

2  Trials and Tribulations

Yes, we have the special skills and qualities to pull this off for those who ask, but it is a big ask.  And failure flashes before us.  It really seems that this is the one that will get away.

And not everyone wants us to succeed, either.  There are plenty who would have us fail and will do their utmost to make sure we do.

Yet, there are others who come out to help us.  Once we have got over our earlier procastination and unwillingness to get going, the universe conspires to help us.

We don’t know that we will succeed.  But we do that we want to, for ourselves, for the people who asked, and for the people who joined us along the way.  Our desire to succeed makes the possibility of failure all the more scary.

3  The return

And the oddest feature of all in the hero’s story is the disorientation we feel on our return.

We may be a hero returned from a war.  We might have won a gold medal at the Olympics.  We may have graduated from uni.

We have the party.  We have the parade.  But it is a let-down.

We aren’t being party-poopers or ungrateful.  It’s just that we are no longer who we were when we began, and nor are the people we left behind.  We have a lot of catching up to do.

Some people don’t try.  They leave again and try to relive their adventure.  Grand prix racing drivers spring into my unkind mind.

Some people go quiet.  Old soldiers do particularly.  People cannot understand what they have gone through.

Others understand that they are in a new phase of their lives.  They engage with the community around them and they bring their new selves to what is happening around them.  They may have a relatively quiet period as they become reoriented and re-weave their place within it.  This can be hard.  But it is easier when we live the question.

How can we, who have been away, find our way in the old life to which we return, but which is really a new place whee we return as a stranger.

What is our call now?  What is our new adventure?  What is the new call from the people around us?

The words of poet Mary Oliver get us a clue.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

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Being me, while not being boring to you

I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something

so simply

about love

or about pain

that even

as you are reading

you feel it

and as you read

you keep feeling it

and though it be my story

it will be common,

though it be singular

it will be known to you

so that by the end

you will think—

no, you will realize—

that it was all the while

yourself arranging the words,

that it was all the time

words that you yourself,

out of your own heart

had been saying.

Mary Olive

Evidence: Poems by Mary Oliver. Boston: Beacon, 2009.

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