Start Close In

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don't want to take.
Start with the ground you know,
the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way of starting the conversation.
Start with your own question,
give up on other people's questions,
don't let them smother something simple.
To find another's voice follow your own voice,
wait until that voice becomes a private ear
listening to another. Start right now
take a small step you can call your own
don't follow someone else's heroics,
be humble and focused, start close in,
don't mistake that other for your own.
Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don't want to take. ~ David Whyte

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finding our Place

This week a friend in her late 30’s mentioned that she did not feel that she had ‘arrived’ yet. She felt that she had not accomplished enough for her age. I teased her a little bit. Later in the day, we talked about this idea more deeply. Our human longing to arrive comes from a true need- a need to arrive in our own wild souls. Unfortunately, our consumer based, nature-alienated culture has corrupted that longing. We have been taught that arrival is synonymous with our outer world place in the world. Living life from the center of Soul is to genuinely arrive, taking our authentic place in the world. We are most deeply connected to the world through our own souls.

Here is what Bill Plotkin has to say:

Of all the possible ways to identify what we mean by soul, I prefer ultimate place

David Whyte speaks of soul as the ‘largest conversation a person is capable of having with the world.’ Here, ‘conversation’ is the poet’s way of saying relationship. You can see that the largest relationship a person can have with the world is his ultimate place if you recall that the concept of place corresponds to the totality of relationships a thing has with other things in the world " ~ From Nature and the Human Soul (page 36)

When we lose our soul place in the world, we are truly lost. Our culture assures us that this feeling of being lost can be addressed by securing our place in the world through outer accomplishments: the right friends, the right relationships, the right toys, a career that brings recognition, adequate financial security, or even the right kind of volunteerism. Without Soul, all of these attempts at finding our place eventually leave us knowing that we are lost yet again.

When this happens, David Wagoner’s poem has much to teach us. Stand still. The forest [what is wild] knows where you are. You must let it find you.

Spend sometime this week being still in nature, opening your body to the natural world, and letting the world find you. Be mindful of how your body feels before the activity and after. Notice the images that come to you and allow them to speak to you.

In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair. ~Howard Thurman

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