What to Remember When Waking

Dear friends and family,

Wow!  What an experience to post my first blog post.  Talk about feeling VERY alive!  Pressing the word “Publish” last night, just before midnight, was such a rush!  And today, receiving your private comments via email and the public comments via the blog posting has been such a treat.

I love Valkyrie’s image of grown ups camping out in a tent in the living room.  Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of my brother and me making giant indoor “forts” that had sheets for a ceiling and walls and makeshift hallways and rooms.  It was so magical to create a place that was too small for the adults and so cozy for us kids.

Linda’s description of her head rush at the top of the Rockies made me want to plan our next Tahoe weekend.  Gwen’s evocation of the singing of mountains and rivers, sea turtles and mongooses was delightful.  And I was so happy to hear what Tawny is exploring in her morning practice.  Oz’s comment about looking out the window made me think of a favorite David Whyte poem, which my dear friend and lover of words, Vanda, introduced me to years ago, when I was looking for something for a leadership class I was teaching.  I have used it often since then, when working with individual leaders, leadership teams and groups who are open to reflecting on the deeper purpose of their lives and as well as that of their organization’s.

What to Remember When Waking

In that first hardly noticed moment
in which you wake,
coming back to this life
from the other
more secret, movable
and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan
is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly
will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden
as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not an accident
amidst other accidents
you were invited
from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light
of the morning window
toward the mountain presence
of everything that can be,
what urgency calls you
to your one love?

What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page
on the waiting desk?

by David Whyte in House of Belonging

“What you can plan is too small for you to live.”  Aye!  Isn’t that the truth!  What urgency calls you?  What shape waits in the seed of you?  Such powerful questions.  Which makes me realize – a good question brings me alive.  It calls me to explore it, to live with it, to live into it.  And time and time again, I have seen a good question bring a group alive, shifting people from being disengaged, their bodies present while their minds are elsewhere, to sitting on the edges of their seats, tracking every word of the conversation, eager to jump in.

I also have seen a provocative poem, an ethereal piece of 17th century choral music, and a recording of intense African drumming completely shift the energy in a room, making it absolutely bursting with life – especially in a business context where it is so unexpected, so far from the norm. 

What I am struck by is how many of the personal and public comments seem to be about feeling alive in non-work related activities.  It could be that the focus of the blog posting overly influenced the comments. It could be that it is easier to feel alive outside of work.  I find myself wondering, when you have felt most alive in a work context? What was happening?  What do you think enabled it?  Again, it would be lovely to hear from you!

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3 Responses to What to Remember When Waking

  1. The simplest answers to that question are (1) I feel most alive in a work context when I feel a mental connection with another person and (2) I feel most alive in a work context when I am designing my own work.
    Both of these are true outside of work, as well.

  2. Ron Lichty says:

    What an amazing poem. Just the right thing for bringing my left brain up short and focusing on what matters in this (2012) new year. Eugene’s email today led me to his final Blue Oxen blog entry, which led me to your blog, which led me here… Congratulations to you both on the launch of your collaboration. I think you’ll bring something more than just skillful means to your groups. I experience a lot of soul…

    • So glad to hear how the poem touched you, Ron! It is good timing that you read it at the beginning of a new year. Thank you for your words of congratulations to Eugene and I. You are right, we do bring our hearts and souls to our work. Part of bringing skillful means to groups is helping them to focus on what really matters, which coincidentally creates a greater feeling of aliveness and soulfulness for all! Would love to hear when you have felt most alive in a group.

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