Allow: A Poem by Danna Faulds

Allow

There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado. Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel. Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground. The only

safety lies in letting it all in-

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practise

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

 

This poem was read to me by my teacher in our mindfulness group some while ago, and it is on re-reading it now that I feel again deeply moved and a further release of some of the shadow of grief that I carry still from my mother’s death. I allow the feelings, the complicated mix of feelings time and space to simply be with me, and then to gently flow in ribbons that entwine with warm, loving memories so that I can reflect without being overwhelmed.

Kindness

The older I am the more sure I am that kindness is key to a happy life: kindness to self, kindness to others, to see and to listen with kindness, to practise kindness daily.

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Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in the white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

and only kindness ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises it head

from the crowd of the world to say

“It is I you have been looking for”

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Ny

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A Poem

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost…I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

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I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

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I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately

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I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

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I walk down a different street.

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If I Had My Life To Live Over

I think living in the moment requires a little reflecting on but not dwelling in the past and feel this lovely poem by Nadine Stair (age 85) from Condensed Chicken Soup For The Soul captures the wisdom of that: learning from where we have been in order to better be where we are, to cherish, relish and appreciate the moment, every moment. Take the time to walk barefoot and really feel the ground beneath you.

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax. I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances.

I would take more trips.I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see,I’m one of those people who live sensibly

and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had to do it over again;

I’d have more of them. In fact

I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments.

One after another, instead of living so many

years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere

without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat

and a parachute.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot

earlier in the Spring and stay that way until the Fall.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter next time.

I would go to more dances.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

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This also reminds me of one of my favourite quotations:

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”
— Aldous Huxley, Island

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The Summer Day

A Poem By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

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A valuable reminder to take time to notice, to appreciate and cherish the natural world around us and then to reflect and acknowledge ourselves in that moment.

 

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If I Had To Live My Life Over

Poem By Nadine Stair (age 85)
Older Woman’s Words of Wisdom………!

If I Had My Life to Live Over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d
have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly
and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had it to do over
again, I’d have more of them. In fact,
I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments.

One after another, instead of living so many
years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter next time.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.

By Nadine Stair (age 85)
from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen