What to Remember When Waking

"...To be human
is to become visible
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others..."
Excerpt from ‘What to Remember When Waking’
From River Flow: New and Selected Poems
Many Rivers Press. ©David Whyte

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Word of the Year 2013

"Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets to find you" ~Hafiz of Persia

I have been on a path of learning about benevolence for a long time.  I didn't understand it initially.  There was too much strife in my upbringing to allow for the idea to take seed.  My family dichotomy was such that they would never turn you out of the house if you were down or you needed a meal or a hand up. There was charity but this benevolence seriously balked at the wallet as money seemed to disturb the intricate power structure in place. I can recall at one point in my life needing a minor but important surgery. I was uninsured at the time and my family thought it a good time to make a point about my irresponsible financial nature. My request for assistance was declined with admonition, "Let this be a lesson to you".  It was. I turned to a friend, Judy Bradford, who was more than happy to make a loan arrangement with me. Friends; sometimes they are the surrogate family we always wanted but could only dream of. This kindness twenty years ago was pivotal in my life as it set  me to examining what it was to be generous. Questions rose about how I framed my place with friends and in the community.  Why was it not a practice within my family to volunteer or be service oriented? How does one become the kind of person others turn to?  It seemed to me I was always the one seeking help from others. I set out to find out by finding a way to give a bit on my own.

In defense of my family I was truly quite different from them.  It was confusing in that I had been conceived outside of the paddock. I had a curious nature and a peculiar tastes for education, art and literature where their interests were firmly embedded in prospects, means and ambition. No one knew how to support me.  I was on my own with these interests from the start.  I truly believe there was a perfection in that.

One of the things that I learned in opening up and making myself available to others was the immediate sense of  satisfaction and joy I felt in giving.  It started small.  I took to putting dollar bills in plastic eggs at Easter time and leaving them on the tables in coffee houses and public benches. It morphed into sponsoring parties for poets and artists and evolved into selling all my possessions and moving to another state to care for my Mother in her last years. I became kind of a giving junkie at one point constantly funneling praise, support and money into projects and people I felt proud to be a part of or allied with. I had a song in my heart and I couldn't have been happier. When I ran out of energy, finances, and hope and I could give no more I found myself in a sort of self imposed exile from being a part of anything.

In examining the word of the the year "truth" for 2012, I was startled to realize that so much of what was missing in my life was support.  In my practice of learning the joys of giving, I had no idea what kinds of good will these actions unleashed into the world. What a surprise it was to realize that in finding a way to give from within, an entire ebb and flow was set into motion that, in time, would find me.

I  recently received unsolicited support that was so out of the blue and shocking that it left me stunned.  I didn't think there was anything more fulfilling than giving until I found myself so blatantly on the receiving end of someone else's generous spirit.  I cannot recall ever feeling so humbled and yet lifted and cheered.  So this is what being unconditionally supported feels like? I can hardly express how so very thankful and inspired I feel!

I have always had a considerable amount of spiritual support.  I've felt things turn my way inexplicably and opportunities rush to me and had strange fields of energy descend to protect me. With that, I am deeply thankful for family and the friends I have made over the years and the help and kindness I've received from them.  It is obvious to me now that I need to practice on myself some of what I have been trying to make habit of in the world because giving to others is no substitute for maintaining a strong presence in the world. I must find ambition; stay keen to my nature; focus; aim higher - keep at it - show up and go one better...find courage for myself because I have something important within each day to share.

Which brings me to my word of the year:

Encouragement:  Help, support; advocacy; aid; backing; behalf; cheer; comfort; commendation; consolation;  exhortation; favor.

I hope to be practicing what I preach this year and I ..."...might even raise a little sand...Yeah".

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