I had been so busy...
trying to get last minute Christmas shopping completed, helping the big kids study for end of year exams, shuffling family members to and fro, making sure that the holidays were merry and bright.
And so, spending an hour with a poetry group was probably the last thing I should have been doing...
The group is appropriately named, "Lift," not because the poetry they select is necessarily uplifting or a "cup half full" deal, but rather that the experience shakes you out of your status quo and sends you back into the world feeling more buoyant than when you arrived.
The process of sharing is unique. It's not an open-mic or a slam. It's well...you just have to experience it.
On my inaugural evening with the group, one of my absolute, hands-down, favorite writers was selected...Pablo Neruda. Below is the selection.
Now we will count to twelve
and we will keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)
As I read the words and internalized the piece, it became very clear, yet again....the sacred, the holy, the unique, the "me" that I want to inhabit and to share with the world lies somewhere in the quiet...not in the flailing of limbs, the crossing off of to-do list items or the frenetic, feverish accomplishing of so much.
Rather, the me, the person that I sometimes feel I know the least, lives in intentional inactivity. But how do I access her? Is it possible to be in a place of silence and non-expectation while fully embracing my life?
And then another man spoke. He honored the journey that we're all on to essentially figure out, "Who the hell am I?" And I stopped and took in one deep breath.
If we only get one go around...no matter how old or how young we are when we leave, shouldn't we be committed to sharing our most authentic selves with the world? Doesn't the world deserve the best of me and the best of you?
As we embark upon a new year full of hope, possibility, opportunity and open minds and hearts, maybe we should re-think creating New Year's resolutions and instead, choose to dedicate time and energy to being still. As frightening as it seems to soak in the moment, the quiet, the inaction, its possible that we'll never find what we're looking for and meant to do, until we let the noise and distraction go.
And so as I was driving home in the quiet, I said a prayer of thanks. Thank you for making the time to reconnect with me, the me that feels, well, most like me. I want to share more of her in 2014.