Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed
by circumstance, how great reputations
dissolve with infirmity and how you,
in particular, stand a hairsbreadth from losing
everyone you hold dear.
Then, look back down the path to the north,
the way you came, as if seeing
your entire past and then south
over the hazy blue coast as if present
to a broad future.
Recall the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons
whether you reach them or not.
David Whyte, Mameen (extract)
There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
in the forest, just
as the pink mocassin flowers
If you notice anything,
it leads you to notice
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that….
Finally, I noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.
How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows?
You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
Mary Oliver, Moths (extracts)
The real challenge lies in just being able to integrate awareness into the most ordinary things.
What [the Buddha] saw was that life is the permanent experience of suffering. This suffering is primarily occasioned by the ego’s desire to control – to control the environment, to control others, to control in proportion to our losses. The only path through and beyond this suffering, according to the Buddha, is the relinquishment of the desire to control, to let be, to go with the wisdom implicit in the transience of nature. This release is the proper cure for neurosis, for then one is not split off from nature, including ourselves, who are a part of nature. Such a relinquishment does not render one a slave to loss, but rather a participant in the act of letting go. Only letting go can bring peace and serenity […] None of us will likely attain Buddhahood, but we need not be eternal victims either.
James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places
Nature’s silence is its one remark, and every flake of world is a chip off that old mute and immutable block. The Chinese say that we live in the world of the ten thousand things. Each of the ten thousand things cries out to us precisely nothing.
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
The multiplication of our society’s demons has been accompanied by a ratcheting up of the sources and volume of its background noise. The chatter and diversions of our lives (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, texts . . .) serve to keep the demons at bay, even as we are creating demons faster than we can create noise to drown them out: environmental devastation, global warming, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, uncontrolled population growth, unlimited consumption held up by international media and most of our leaders as the glittering purpose of life. The appropriate response is not more noise. The appropriate response is more silence. To choose to be alone is to bait the trap, to create a space the demons cannot resist entering. And that’s the good news; the demons that enter can be named, written about, and tamed through the miracle of the healing word, the miracle of art, the miracle of silence.
Fenton Johnson, At the Centre of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life
with thanks to David Kanigan, Live and Learn Blog