Her fire was transplanted into my flickering flame of a heart and has been fueling it since.
Mary Oliver died at 83 after infecting many people with her poetry. So glad I met her heart and invited it in.
Searching for a heart of gold is a worthy quest, and not just for Neil Young. Neil Young might have been singing about a romantic connection, but we are all searching for hearts of gold in people we meet. It is like a quest for home.
A heart of gold is about honesty and authenticity. It is about loyalty and honor and about refusing to become small or vindictive in our words or actions.
And people with hearts of gold are not doormats, they are strong people who refuse to stoop to hatred.
To show respect to all people, even those who have disrespected us or treated others disrespectfully, is sometimes torture and often counter-intuitive. Yet, the reward of having that caliber of character is worth the exertion.
A smile is an opening
For the right words
But also for the right thoughts
Which create the capacity
What we could not receive before
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.” -Tagore
Create the capacity. Enjoy what you have been given. Get ready for amazement.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi
It is so very common to complain and despair about the peace we did not find during the holidays, when finding it was always up to us, not to our circumstances or how other human beings acted.
Peace may find you in the music
Or it may sneak up on you in nature
Peace may discover you in art
Or in a smile from a grateful stranger
But, wherever it is, let’s rendezvous there
Leave the scarred place of judgment behind
Go, reaching for peace’s nurture
To soothe away the illusion
Of your troubled and complicated life
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep.
However gradual It looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
This stanza from W.H. Auden’s poem is certainly about risky love, but the sentiment can be applied to a multitude of decisions in our lives that will take us off the beaten path, away from the mundane, and into a more adventurous, fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to becoming that person we admire.
We can’t kid ourselves forever. Living vicariously on our couch through media, books, sports, fantasy or our children will never be enough.
Today, I wish that courage to leap for you and for me.
(originally posted in October 2015)
I put clean dishes away in a warm kitchen
As I sip my tea to the purr of Leonard Cohen
Whatever else may happen to me along the way
I have just now, most assuredly, visited heaven
Had I focused instead on that funky pain in my pounding right ear
Or what my clueless family member should not have done
I would have plodded blindly through my tasks
Oblivious to its gift; this purest form of fun
I may be tossed mercilessly about and into labyrinths or holes today
Unbalanced or badly broken by life’s unexpected pitch or sway
But even there, in the darkness, focused on the simplest moments and simplest gifts
I can remember that heaven is, and is never so very far away
(“Dragons hoard gold because the thing you most need is always to be found where you least want to look.”)
People end up alone in life because they hang on to their particular criteria for companionship and refuse to look in an “inferior” or threatening place (which might require serious humility or honesty).
Face the dragon. Do we really have to?
Isn’t there another way to get what we want?
Can’t we just do what we’ve always done
Rather than risk exposure on a battlefront?
An example close to home:
I have tried for years to get an idea off the ground for suicide prevention and I know I should keep trying because it can save lives, but…
I have perfectly good reasons
Not to follow my heart’s suggestion
Courage is such hard work and
Uh…okay…I really hate rejection
Let’s encourage each other. I’ll face my dragon if you face yours.
When the voice tells you to give up
Get out! Get out and go anywhere but where you are
In search of a different voice to tell you
Success lives right next door, so very close to your despair
When the voice says the pain is too much
Get out! Get out of your story into a story of courage
Where the poor and defeated rise up to turn pain
Into passion for millions of forgotten sufferers
When the voice says whatever you do won’t help
Get out! Get out into an infinite universe
Where every invisible particle and connection
Crackles with impressive power all around you
When the voice says you are worthless
Get out! Get outside to see — or inside a curious mind to hear
About your improbable existence among the teaming billions
Of living things–every one of them essential
When the voice says no one cares
Get out! Get out quickly and be your own big bang of care
Explode with a clear and bellowing voice to replace
The numbing, nagging one making slaves of millions
(He or she. Please, forgive the gender specific quote. )
I wrote this poem because I wrestle with the unrelenting voice of discouragement every day and have found that if I shift my perspective I can hang on five minutes longer.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…then yours is the earth and everything in it.”
Kipling makes quite a bold promise in his poem “If.”
Although everyone would like all triumph and no disasters, Kipling warns that they are…
…and, if we can react to both with humility and courage by not relying on one nor rejecting the other, we will be much closer to mastering our world.
Even though the poem is addressed to his son, it encapsulates the most profoundly useful and life-changing advice I have ever read.
Need direction? Need a mentor? Start here.
If guilt creeps stealthily in
Or breaks violently into your home
It will not help to hide behind a door
Or appear dreadfully busy on your phone
Guilt cannot stand to be ignored! (Trust me, history is my witness)
Dare to play dumb or talk smart
He (and you) will stab your dear one (oh yes!)
Straight through their unsuspecting heart
Or, he’ll double you over with a kick to the gut
Then condemn you to endless nights in a restless bed
After pouring poisons into your body and
Terrifying fears into your head
Your only chance is to look fiercely into his heartless eyes
Let him say what he has to say
Then, you, you fix what can be fixed, and
Then, bravely banish his pathetic impotence away