Life is defined as the presence of energy in its many intricate and brilliantly complex forms. I am just a traveler and observer here, carving out and exploring the many beautiful ways in which to live my life to its fullest.
I recently tuned in to Krista Tippett’s September 16th interview with Joanna Macy through Krista’s American Public Media show “On Being.” I am constantly moved by Tippett’s guests and find pearls of wisdom to string together days afterward. Macy very gracefully shared a number of her experiences as an ecologist, writer, and Buddhist philosopher. She spoke at times through her language of Ranier Maria Rilke poems she has translated through the years and I have included one at the bottom of this post for reference (along with the MP3). Aside from the vast storehouse of knowledge Macy distilled within one hour’s worth of programming, she had one particular quote which resonated with me down to my core being regarding maintaining optimism. She states:
“Buddhist teachings, say, you know, feeling that you have to maintain hope can wear you out. Just be present. The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present. And when you’re worrying about whether you are hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you are here AND that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world, because it will not be healed without that. That is what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world. That is what keeps me going, Krista.”
How simple yet profound! This is not a new concept by any means, but I had a strong desire to jump up and yell, “YES!!!” as soon as I heard her gently state this through her 81 years worth of grace and wisdom. I am an extremely optimistic person, yet even optimistic people have a rough go of it at times and Macy begs me to ask the question of myself: Am I showing up, especially when times are not so optimistic? Are you? Are we punching our time cards, especially when the going gets rough? Are we willing to get our faces and hands dirty when the job needs to be done? Anymore, it is so easy to punch out. Wanna know my truth? What we need most is to find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the melee of life. Life is about showing up, celebrating every day to its fullest, and embracing times when we feel we have too much of a load to bear on our shoulders ~ for that is when everyday angels are there by our side to hold our hand and help us punch that card.
Until next time, I offer these words of wisdom for better or for worse. Please take them with a grain of salt, for we each live our own individual truths. Our mission while we are here is to understand, accept, and celebrate that one very simple, but incredibly significant fact. For all this I am grateful.
“Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower”
by Rainer Maria Rilke; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell.
As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29