In David Whyte’s book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, he describes the word ‘close’ in part, “Close is what we almost always are: close to happiness, close to another, close to leaving, close to tears, close to God, close to losing faith, close to being done, close to saying something or close to success, and even, with the greatest sense of satisfaction, close to giving the whole thing up. Our human essence lies not in arrival, but in being almost there: we are creatures who are on the way, our journey a series of impending anticipated arrivals. We live by unconsciously measuring the inverse distances of our proximity: an intimacy calibrated by the vulnerability we feel in giving up our sense of separation.” Continue reading
Poet David Whyte has a book called Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. It really is breathtaking, and he reads some of his word-poems in Sam Harris’ Waking Up meditation app too.
Part of his description of the word beginning is, “Beginning is difficult, and our insulating rituals and the virtuoso subtleties of our methods of delay are always a fine, ever-present measure of our reluctance in taking the first close-in, courageous step to reclaiming the happiness of actually having started. Perhaps, because taking a new step always begins from the central, foundational core of the body, a body we have neglected, beginning well means seating ourselves in the body again, catching up with ourselves and the person we have become since we last tried to begin. The radical physical embodiment leads to an equally radical 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 now to offer, are let go, with all of the accompanying death-like trauma, and where the very last fight occurs, a rear-guard disbelief 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: just picking up the pen or the wood chisel, just picking up the instrument or the phone, which is why we so often 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.” Continue reading
I recently came across poet David Whyte. He has Irish and English roots and a hypnotic voice that draws you in to his poems. There is a segment in the Waking Up meditation app where he shares some of his work. He writes words that really cut you open and change the way you see things. Things you thought you knew seem new again.
In The Bell and the Blackbird, he recalls an old Irish story of a monk standing by the monastary in early morning and hearing the bell ring, calling him to his work of prayer. The monk thinks this is the most beautiful sound. He turns to go but then hears the blackbird singing in the forest and he thinks this is the most beautiful sound. We don’t know what sound the monk chooses to follow, but he represents us all. Where will we go next on our journey? We have many compelling options. Continue reading