“Memory is not just a then, recalled in a now, the past is never just the past, memory is the pulse passing through all created life, a waveform, a then continually becoming other thens, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable now. But the guru’s urge to live only in the now misunderstands the multilayered inheritance of existence, where all epochs live and breathe in parallels… Memory is an invitation to the source of our life, to a fuller participation in the now, to a future about to happen, but ultimately to a frontier identity that holds them all at once. Memory makes the now fully inhabitable” (David Whyte, Consolations, p. 143).
When rabbis and Jewish mystics talk about Sabbath (a mindful moment that lasts for an entire day), they turn to Psalms 92 and 93. That seems strange.
You might not be familiar with Jewish tradition. While Psalm 92 does open with the words “A psalm, a song for the...
To be fully experienced, life offers poets and poetry.
The tagline of my work is Feast on Your Life. I love to everything about cooking, but this invitation to feasting comes from something deeper.
I have plucked this phrase from a poem of Caribbean poet and playwright Derek Walcott (b. January 23, 1930).
Walcott is a poet of such extraordinary depth that his 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature is a wholly inadequate measure of his mesmerizing words, and I have come to believe that his luminous and unexpected gleam of human life in his poem “Love After Love,” (Collected Poems: 1948–1984), is the greatest adulting poem ever written.
Take a calming breath and enjoy.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart...
You stand at the threshold, present and lucid.
One foot in the known and one in the unknown.
There is no judgment. There is no force. There is no rush.
You are safe and aware of your freedom to be yourself.
Even if you do not know who you are.
Rays of amber light were arriving in our kitchen. It was that in-between time, dusk, when the war of New York City gives way to its peace.
My wife was stirring a boiling pot of coconut curry soup, and we were having a sweet-spot conversation—intense and gentle at the same time.
That past weekend we had hosted a young couple seeking marital advice, so she asked, “What did you notice about the evening?” An issue emerged, namely my propensity to fill up space with words.
Talking limited me professionally, relationally, and spiritually. Secretly, I was ashamed of it. So, the conversation hit a nerve.
I stood in the middle of the kitchen seen and accepted. There was an urgent calm.
She moved away from the stove and, as if...
Who is a leader and who is a follower is becoming less and less clear, and, frankly, less and less relevant.
* * *
My friend Nate battled cancer last year. After an abrupt diagnosis and surgery, he and his wife moved to New York City and stayed with my family during the chemo and radiation treatment.
Nate is a leader at Community Solutions, a national non-profit organization, untangling the knot of homelessness. They have been working patiently, deftly, and joyfully, making historical progress.
He set up his office desk at our dining table, and I delighted in cooking dinners while eavesdropping on his work conversations.
During these phone calls, for the most part, he was curiously silent. He asked heartfelt questions. He re-organized conversations around what's important and unknown, and bookended each one with playfulness and care.
I asked him when and how he had learned to hold space like that.
"I remember the...
Welcome to mud and flowers.
Spring is here!
Are you feelin' it? Resurrection? Mother Earth awakening? Beginnings?
It is a time when geese get on the move again and a time for the immortal poem of Mary Oliver.
Time to leave the office, the boardroom, the shop, or the classroom, and go for a walk.
Breathtakingly beautiful (see pic), the largest cave in the world, Hang Sơn Đoòng in Vietnam. It was discovered by a local man named Hồ Khanh in 1991, God bless him. The whistling sound of wind and the roar of a rushing stream in the cave heard through a small entrance, as well as the steep descent, prevented the local people from ever entering the cave.
I have a fear of small enclosed spaces, sometimes waking up in a sweat from a dream in which I have to crawl through a pipe as a spy (I must have seen a movie like that when I was a kid). But there are enclosed spaces more spacious than the skies. They often have an access that will reveal itself to us only if we want to live alive.
I have realized that I live life in proportion to the breadth and depth of my attention. I have come to believe that life gives itself only to those who pay attention and it gives itself only in proportion to that attention.
To change our life, we have one lever, really. What we choose to pay...
PHOTO: Louvre Museum, L'Amour et Psyché by François Édouard Picot
Corporations have been engaged in a willful battle against the very grain of existence. Like the good Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, they have spent enormous amounts of energy putting in place systems that attempt to hold back the shifting oceanic qualities of existence. The complexity of the world could be accounted for, they fervently hoped, by a simple increase in the thickness of the company manual.
… The twenty-first century will be anything but business as usual. Institutions must now balance the need to make a living with a natural ability to change. They must also honor the souls of the individuals who work for them and the great soul of the natural world from which they take their resources.
But finding the soul in American corporate life is blessedly fraught with difficulties. The seething, snapping, boisterously self-referential global way of business is like...
Working hard this year? We all do.
How about dropping it for a moment and putting on our dancing shoes?
Here is a word from a 9th-century politician, theologian and leader, a workaholic of the Middle Ages.
IN PRAISE OF DANCING
I praise the dance, for it frees people
from the heaviness of matter
and binds the isolated to community.
I praise the dance, which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming all brain,
will, or feeling.
Dancing demands a whole person, one who is
firmly anchored in the center of his life, who is
not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in one’s own ego.
Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates
with the balance of all his powers.
I praise the dance.
O human, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven
will not know what to do with you.
The way we work is changing rapidly. The number of us who have opted out of traditional corporate or government employment is growing. According to such sources as Forbes and Public Sector Digest, by the year 2020, 40 to 50 percent of the workforce in the U.S. will be freelancers. By 2030 we will be the majority.
Moving from cubicles to freedom is appealing for many reasons. Perhaps the most significant is the fresh air of possibility and permission to create products, services, and ideas that would never be possible in the often monochromatic, dehydrated, and angular space of traditional business.
Corporations and government organizations are also awakening to the realization that human freedom and a sense of purpose make business sense. Those living in denial of this softer but more powerful aspect of business will be awakened one day soon by the success of their competitors.
But that’s what they have to worry about.