Sometimes you hear what you need when you need it. (Thanks, Pam, for lending me those David Whyte CDs.) I didn’t know how a person could welcome reluctance until I listened to Hidden Harvests by David Whyte. It includes poetry and commentary about many hidden harvests, including our own reluctance, he says,
“I often think that one of the great disciplines of life is to just taste the single malt essence of your own reluctance to actually be here and show up and do anything useful at all. Just to understand all the ways you don’t want to do it ….and that you would much rather be at home with a large pile of People magazines. Not worrying about this sense of eminent potentiality but just to look at all the ways you are afraid of coming out in the world and being seen. So that is one form of hidden harvest.”
So I’ve been reading People magazine, no, not really, I still don’t know one movie star from the next. I have been both enjoying summer and writing and tending the compost heap of my past hurts, doubts, fears and finding that oxygen, daylight of a good stir help things along. Just as there is no unrotting, there is no peace in going back to ways that no longer fit. So unready I come out to have my say.
This is a poem I wrote in the spring inspired by an essay about perfectionism in the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Included are borrowed observations from Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg and John Wing. I really resisted this message and overthought it and noticed that when I finished with all that, it works.
Outside the deeply disciplined club looking in,
Liz holds open the door and says, “hey, where you been?”
“haven’t been feeling like it for a while.”
“happens to everyone, friend… come on in!
what kind of deeply disciplined are you going for anyway?”
“Writer, I guess. I like poems… a poet.”
“There are many different tickets into this place
Half-ass is the one you might need today.
Let’s see, do you only feel half-assed about writing?”
“Yeah, that’s about right.”
“Good enough, get started!
Let me guess, you don’t know what to write.
Can you manage half-assed?
or better yet a shitty first draft or the worst crap you’ve ever written?”
“Oh, yeah, write, thanks.”
And just because it’s been so long, I throw in two haikus for you.
Sangha, a jewel
sparkles by refracting light
you are not alone.
Frozen once, now thawed
slowly dripping, trickling
merges with the falls
Lately, I am exploring the idea that “the path is made by walking.” This idea is from a poem by Antonio Machado.
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino
Translated by David Whyte from his CD, Pilgrim, as
Pathmaker, there is no path
You make the path by walking
By walking you make the path