Today by Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings
“Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off,
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.”
In this festive, busy season of high expectations, create internal quiet amidst the chaos to prepare, reflect, be still. Quiet to hear the soft whisper of peace, guided by the compass of your soul, breathing in the crisp air to be restored and gently pulled toward purpose and depth.
On a foundation of gratitude, awe and silence, be ready to take it in. All of it. And then go back out and be a blessing to your world.
“The life that I could still live, I should live, and the thoughts that I could still think, I should think.” – C.G. Jung, The Red Book
It’s never too late…to give forgiveness, to ask forgiveness, to break the silence, to dream, to pursue your dreams, to dance, to give, to laugh, to understand, to be grateful, to stop, to listen, to be heard, to say thank you, to try something new, to let go, to change, to yield, to learn, to play, to love.
It’s never too late, but someday it will be. And we know not the day. Start today, so regret has no place to visit tomorrow.
Like a boxer in the ring, we bob and weave through our days, fists up to protect a hook to the chops, a jab to the ribs. On the defense to protect ourselves from a cheap shot.
Business, politics and the media thrive on the negative, the downside, survival and “winning” by demolishing the opponent. Competition that challenges and improves our skills has become mean-spirited, unreasonable and hollow. Ideas and healthy debate to create better solutions to make our world better have turned into polar left and right, I’m right and you’re wrong. Cynicism is in fashion.
And in the midst of it all, hope and light remain. Perhaps quiet at times, but strong and present as ever. Lately, we’ve had coworkers’ babies, kids, puppies and dogs stopping in the office. A young father tenderly holding his first child. A mom with two confident little ones walking in the office like they own the world with their best friend as their driver. A puppy cuddled and the tone of our voices get higher and animated. And as we gather to witness and be a part of it, we become softer, tapping into our hidden reservoir of joy and delight. We wake up.
We are transformed by connection, conversation, time with family and friends. Reminding us to reaching out instead of retreat. Less bobbing and weaving. More light and life.
“In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition.” – Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
Immerse yourself into each day with no attachments or expectations with the exception of giving your very best to each moment, each person. When we focus on doing good and being authentic, it’s so much more than enough. Detach from that which you have no real influence and get out of your own way.
“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” – Rabindranath Tagore
“Great thoughts and a pure heart, that is what we should ask from God.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When we move past assumptions and go deeper by asking, we will discover a new world. We are surprised when we learn something new about a person we thought we knew, usually based on our first impression or gossip. Our assumptions and judgments hold us back from asking. Like a rock thrown across the water, we skip barely touching the surface, missing out on the deep waters of connection.
She never talks so she must be stuck up. Really she’s an introvert and just needs to be drawn out. He’s in a bad mood. Really he’s just found out his wife is leaving him. There are a lot of undercurrents in people’s lives that impact their behavior and they are more complicated than our assumptions allow. When we move outside of ourselves, we can see our world in a different light. “They” becomes “us.”
We leave a lot of unopened gifts under the tree. And we miss out on the flavor of all different people with one desire in common – to be seen for who they really are.
Assume the best. Ask and listen.
“Dream and give yourself permission to envision a You that you choose to be.” – Joy Page
The light does not ask permission to shine. Water need not ask to be, to flow. Warm and refreshing. Go shine, quench your thirst. No permission slips required.
“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ‘good life’ we thinks others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” – Khalil Gibran
It’s hard not to react “in kind” to what’s thrown at us some days. An aggressive driver who cuts us off. A customer who actually believes that “the customer is always right” is permission to be unreasonable. The coworker who’s exhausted by the customer who’s “always right.” All stressed up and lots of places to go. But where exactly are we going?
Instead of reacting “in kind,” we can choose to act with kindness. Certainly easier said than done. But if we do the same, responding in kind, what separates us from those who carelessly strewn their litter cluttering our path?
Slow down and carefully consider your thoughts, words and actions. Leave the path better for your passing by and through. Live well and with character, giving your best. And with kindness as your compass, you’ll always find your way.
“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” – Lao Tzu
It’s really pretty simple. Each day we choose. To see wonder or despair, light or dark. A new toy, wrestling, going for a run hunting up squirrels, time together. Lily and Molly have it figured out.
Stop overcomplicating it all with drama, assumptions and comparison. It’s your life – do something with it and enjoy the journey. Our regrets will be made up of what we didn’t do, the chances and opportunities we missed while we were distracted by noise, insignificance. Make some music and dance. A polka is pretty uncomplicated. 1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 3.
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” – Mother Teresa
“The Great Creator lives within each of us. All of us contain a divine, expressive spark, a creative candle intended to light our path and that of our fellows. We are shiny, not tarnished; large, not small; beautiful, not damaged – although we may be ignorant of our grace, power and dignity.” – Julia Cameron, Walking in this World
I don’t think we’ve lost our sense of delight, joy and laughter. We’ve forgotten. We remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. Our mind easily strays to the worst case scenario, to offense. We need to calibrate our mind each day, to decide what’s worthy of remembering and what’s necessary to forget.
I am reminded of the part of the St. Francis of Assisi prayer to guide each day:
“O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
Console, understand, love, give, pardon. Remember you are shiny, large and beautiful . Forget the rest.
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” – Thomas Merton
We get into ruts, routines and mindsets that hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be, from enjoying life. We do the same thing, accept the “inevitable” and wish for different results. Set the bar higher and start jumping. You will come up short, hit your chin on the bar. And then with the “magic” of practice, repetition and resilience, you will clear the bar.
You are here for many reasons, to use your talents, to contribute. Start today by doing one thing different to shift your perspective, pull yourself out of the rut. Potential is realized one step at a time – being, doing and thinking differently.
Now take that Monday!