Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Four Things

Self Portrait

 by David White

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
if you can know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.


Mary offered this poem. I thought it was wonderful.

I've been reading the words of other people a lot recently. I have my favorite blogs like Ben Hewitt, Andrea Hjelskov, Ron van Wiggens, Kaufarmer. I have been reading Raymond Carver and Mark Twain short stories. So different from each other. All compelling in their own ways.  

So I've been thinking about words a lot. I've decided that it's important to choose words carefully. But it's important not to get so wrapped up in it that you can't choose. Luckily life is forgiving if you have good intentions and make a loving try. If you get low, if you get mean and you forget to love when you choose your words that's what you will get. You will get the opposite of love. Unless, of course, you are talking to a crazy person. Then all bets are off. 

If you get the opposite of love you know what you did and what you have to do. You have to ask for forgiveness. If you ask from the heart you will get forgiveness. And then you have to try to do better. Why does it take so long to do better? I've heard that neural pathways in our brains are grooved by the habits that we learn over a life time. It doesn't take a long life time. Nature in her infinite wisdom designed it this way so when the cave bear was coming at us we didn't have to stop and think what we should do. If we didn't have a good escape plan already grooved in our brain...Zap! We were no more. So doing things habitually at its basis is good and based in evolutionary common sense.

Where this nature goes wrong is when we can't stop unproductive habits. Where we keep doing them over and over. We do them unconsciously because if we pause to think... we're eaten! 

It takes years to undo things that don't work for us. Another challenge is how to determine what works and what doesn't. It's almost as if one needs to look at each and every action and say does this work? Neti, neti. Not this, not this.

Mistakes happen all the time. It is not possible to say "stop doing that. I demand that you stop doing that". It will make you crazy. You will drive all your loved ones away. You will drive yourself away.

I think: (with many thanks to Don Miguel Ruiz)
Always be impeccable with your words. This means choose your words carefully without becoming frozen with fear of making a mistake. This means be most careful about what you say about yourself. Words are magic. Just ask any person living in the jungle who has never seen a written word. I once saw a movie called "Black Robe". In it the Jesuit priest meets a group of Algonquin Indians. He says tell me something nobody knows. He writes it down. He takes it to his friend nearby who can read but has not heard the transaction. Read this he says. In front of the Algonquins the man reads out loud what nobody knows. The Algonquins say he is a demon. He makes scratches on a paper that have life.

Don't take anything personally. If someone trashes you or says bad things that you don't like don't think it is about you. It is about them. Have compassion for them but don't be arrogant. You might make a mistake tomorrow and then you will have people thinking you have a problem. If everyone did not take things personally how different the world would be. War would evaporate. Conflict would be non-existent.

Don't make assumptions. This goes along with not taking anything personally. We get into trouble when we decide we know what someone else is thinking. We may just be having some big hallucination. Even if we somehow managed to know what another person was thinking and our assumption was right is it worth it then to take action on that assumption? Think about what actually needs to be acted on right away. A person falls into a lake and is drowning. A house is on fire and there are children inside. If it's life or death then let's assume that the person is thinking save me. Let's act on that assumption. Everything else is not urgent, is it?

Always do your best. What else can we do? This is a tricky one because we can get trapped into thinking that what other people think we should do is what we should do and then we start using un-impeccable words against our selves. We are bad because we didn't do our best! But what is our best? Our best is what we are doing right now in this exact moment. It may not be our best in the next moment or compared with our past but right in this exact moment we can't do any better. So let yourself off the hook. If you think you can do better, fire away! Try to do better next time. Keep trying. Groove that neural pathway.

All people can benefit from these ideas. Only people who have completely gone off their rocker cannot benefit from these ideas. People like Charles Manson will get caught and put in prison for the criminally insane. But even Charles Manson was doing the best he could. The rest of us might be able to forgive him but we're certainly not going to let the bad choices he made go without doing something about it. 

It's a way of looking at things. Please forgive me for being brief. Maybe I failed utterly in choosing my words carefully but I do know that I did my best.

Finally remember to stand far back in the corner of the galaxy and see the truth of how significant we and the things we do are.


  1. Thanks Renee, this is certainly food for thought. I think I'll print it out to ponder. Love your new header photo, but I'm a sucker for a cat belly!

    1. That's our new cat Bella. We scratcha her bella. She showed up in the hay barn one day and we decided to tame her. She's turned out to be a great companion for our other cat Charles. He was a cat that showed up one day, too. Who needs ASPCA when you're out on the farm and people just abandon their pets right at your front door? We got a little chihuahua mix on the highway by our front gate but someone let him out of our back yard (we have workers here from time to time) and we haven't seen or heard from him since. A coyote had a nice meal. So sad. For him and us. Nice for the coyote. They gotta eat, too. Speaking of food... Have a great food for thought day! (to quote Nebraska Dave).

  2. Words are magic, a divine or a demonic force.
    Choosing them carefully is a sign of wisdom and I have to admit that I am a fool more often than I care to admit.
    Thanks for the food. And for mentioning me... us... ;)