So here’s the tragedy about
D R E A M I N G
. . .we only think it’s for the young
that it has an age limit attached to it
that after a certain time, a certain age
it’s no longer viable
a n d
we do little to
DISPROVE IT. . .
Who Cares - What Matters
What would you do?
WHAT DO YOU DO. . . ?
It’s the First Lecture of a brand new semester. . .
The professor enters the lecture hall. He looks around. . .
“You there in the 8th row. Can you tell me your name?” he asks a student.
“My name is Sandra” says a voice.
The professor asks her, “Please leave my lecture hall. I don’t want to see you in my lecture.”
Everyone is quiet. The student is irritated, slowly packs her things and stands up.
“Faster please” she is asked.
She doesn’t dare to say anything and leaves the lecture hall.
The professor keeps looking around.
The participants are scared.
“Why are there laws?” he asks the group.
All quiet. Everyone looks at the others.
“What are laws for?” he asks again.
“Social order” is heard from a row
A student says “To protect a person’s personal rights.”
Another says “So that you can rely on the state.”
The professor is not satisfied.
“Justice” calls out a student.
The professor smiling. She has his attention.
“Thank you very much. Did I behave unfairly towards your classmate earlier?”
“Indeed I did. Why didn’t anyone protest?
Why didn’t any of you try to stop me?
Why didn’t you want to prevent this injustice?” he asks.
Nobody answers. . .
THE SILENCE LITERALLY SHOUTS OUT A BLARING
W H Y ?
“What you just learned you wouldn’t have understood in 1,000 hours of lectures if you hadn’t lived it. You didn’t say anything just because you weren’t affected yourself. This attitude speaks against you and against life. You think as long as it doesn’t concern you, it’s none of your business. I’m telling you, if you don’t say anything today and don’t bring about justice, then one day you too will experience injustice and no one will stand before you. Justice lives through us all. We have to fight for it.”
“In life and at work, we often live next to each other instead of with each other. We console ourselves that the problems of others are none of our business. We go home and are glad that we were spared. But it’s also about standing up for others. Every day an injustice happens in business, in sports or on the tram. Relying on someone to sort it out is not enough. It is our duty to be there for others. Speaking for others when they cannot. . .
We’re all way past asking what would you do. . .
we are right here, right now, showing
WHAT DO YOU DO
(or. . .d o n ‘ t)
OH do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.
Mary has a way of
that allows a
Who we are
and Who we’ve yet to Recognize
The Who we are now
in a Forest yet to be walked
A Lake yet to be swam
A bird, an animal yet to be
Observed or named
A Universe yet to know
Another Sun’s rays
not yet to be written
even as it ever is being
not so deeply within us
as it rises to surfaces
waiting to support
It was the birthday of best-selling poet Mary Oliver, on September 10; she was born in Maple Heights, Ohio (1935). As a child, she spent most of her time outside, wandering around the woods, reading and writing poems.
Oliver went to college in the ’50s at Ohio State University and Vassar, but dropped out. She made a pilgrimage to visit Edna St. Vincent Millay’s 800-acre estate in Austerlitz, New York. The poet had been dead for several years, but Millay’s sister Norma lived there along with her husband. Mary Oliver and Norma hit it off, and Oliver lived there for years, helping out on the estate, keeping Norma company, and working on her own writing. In 1958, a woman named Molly Malone Cook came to visit Norma while Oliver was there, and the two fell in love. A few years later, they moved together to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Oliver said: “I was very careful never to take an interesting job. Not an interesting one. I took lots of jobs. But if you have an interesting job you get interested in it. I also began in those years to keep early hours. […] If anybody has a job and starts at 9, there’s no reason why they can’t get up at 4:30 or 5 and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day — which is what I did.”
She published five books of poetry, and still almost no one had heard of her. She doesn’t remember ever having given a reading before 1984, which is the year that she was doing dishes one evening when the phone rang and it was someone calling to tell her that her most recent book, American Primitive (1983), had won the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, she was famous. She didn’t really like the fame — she didn’t give many interviews, didn’t want to be in the news. She once wrote in an introduction to a poetry collection, “I have felt all my life that I was wise, and tasteful, too, to speak very little about myself — to deflect the curiosity in the personal self that descends upon writers, especially in this country and at this time, from both casual and avid readers.”
When editors called their house for Oliver, Cook would answer, announce that she was going to get Oliver, fake footsteps, and then get back on the phone and pretend to be the poet — all so that Oliver didn’t have to talk on the phone to strangers, something she did not enjoy. Cook was a photographer, and she was also Oliver’s literary agent. They stayed together for more than 40 years, until Cook’s death in 2005.
Oliver said: “I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else. There were times over the years when life was not easy, but if you’re working a few hours a day and you’ve got a good book to read, and you can go outside to the beach and dig for clams, you’re okay.”
Oliver’s books of poems include No Voyage (1963), The River Styx, Ohio, and Other Poems (1972), Twelve Moons (1978), The Leaf and the Cloud (2000), Owls and Other Fantasies (2003), Red Bird (2008), Dog Songs (2013), and Velocity (2015). Her most recent collection, Devotions, comes out in October of this year.
I’ve always been a Mary Oliver fan
but I’ll also admit that I’ve read much more of her
now that she’s dead
than when she was alive
I suppose which not only makes her
not only more Alive
but still doing
what she did the best
(and still is)
S H A R E
As I page
through this Anthology
I often have a rainbow of feelings
as she gently pulls off the scabs
of some of my most tenderest wounds:
The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
No matter what the poem,
Mary has a way of letting us know that
when you need a prayer
notice that nothing all around you
is miraculously short of that
with the worldly unspoken invitation:
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A PRAYER
O N E
(The only true prayer you’ll ever need
is the one you are)
I know it’s an occupational hazard, getting things others think you might like, enjoy, use because I’m a minister and a chaplain. I’ve received this video dozens of times since it was released 11 years ago, and having been ordained now for a little over 43 years and a hospice chaplain for 29 years, I get asked this one question more than any other: “WHERE WAS GOD AT________________, you can fill in the blank, yourself; at 9/11, when a loved one was dying or going through a most horrendous time, when prayers don’t seem to be answered or can’t even be prayed, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE. . . ?
And YES, it’s a question we often ask during a tragedy, a sickness, an unanswered prayer, an unmet expectation but rarely during a celebration, an exceeded expectation, a painless, completely beautiful day.
As we remember, and we do, this 22nd anniversary of 9/11, WHERE WERE YOU AT ON that day. . .where are you NOW? The GREAT WHOEVER doesn’t show up in Places; the SHOWING UP comes with People; in them and from
them. . .does the SHOWING UP come with you in the tragic/triumphant and all the seemingly inconsequential unnoticed times in between. . . ?
And now, as we
R E M E M B E R
(Who we are and Who we aren’t)
may I offer you one more special video from one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins
THE GREATEST GRIEF
WHAT WAS NEVER HAD
BUT ALWAYS WANTED. . .
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
A N D
Ever since his death, all of the pictures and all of the tributes have been nonstop on Facebook, and so many other forms of social media. It’s almost as if he’s bigger than life, and in many ways he is, but in many ways, we don’t realize, so are we!
What we bring to this world continues way after we are gone, even if a name is not attached to it. I am not, and most likely you aren’t either, as famous as Jimmy Buffett, or ever will be, but each and everyone of us brings a song to this life. The world may never recognize it as easily as CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE or MARGARITAVILLE, but it’s still our’s not just to sing, but to share even with a very few limited but intimate ears. Jimmy, admitted, even in his own band, he wasn’t the best singer or musician, but he knew how to share what he had and share he did, share he still does. THAT is the lesson in itself, and also to grieve that what we have had is still very much what we still have if we but notice it in the new form it has taken.
S H A R E
RINSE AND REPEAT OFTEN
and now if you’ll join me
how about we
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS UP
and go on a little
E X P L O R A T I O N. . .
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace
there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well
as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery
But let this not blind you to what
virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life
keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery,
and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy. ~Max Ehrmann
(Book: Desiderata https://amzn.to/45kJvnK
IT’S ONE THING TO SING WORDS
IT’S ONE THING TO HEAR WORDS
IT’S ONE THING TO READ WORDS
IT’S ONE THING TO BE WORDS
and make them come to life. . .
No matter when they were sung, heard, or read. . .
Anthony Hopkins might be one of the best actors in the past 50 years and one of the reasons I personally love and admire him is because he says his lines almost as if they were your own thoughts, and a flawless double-take.
B U T
Here’s the problem with his film clip. . .Most of us either got disgusted or we stopped watching or maybe we even haven’t gotten this far when we heard those
TWO WORDS that start with an F and end with a T. . .DID you hear what he said after that. . .You see what makes that prayer so powerful isn’t the words, it’s a REELEASE, A SURRENDER that powerfully were related, actually felt, in those words. When’s the last time you had that kind of surrender, felt that kind of release that you offered it or felt it or just flat out better still, that you actually lived it. . .
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .
maybe it’s not the most powerful and the fastest prayer in the world
or maybe it’s just one that’s long been waiting to be
When something really bad happens to you, how do you think about your future? Catastrophizers think, Everything will now unravel, and my life will be ruined. This mindset turns out to be an enormous impediment to happiness and, even worse, it is a major risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
We found this out by tracking every single one of the 79,438 U.S. Army soldiers who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from 2009 to 2013. On their very first day in the Army, they took a psychological questionnaire asking them to rate how they felt about several statements related to pessimism and its most extreme form, catastrophization. For example:
It turns out that we could have used the day-one questionnaire to predict robustly who would develop PTSD. Catastrophizers who faced severe combat stress were almost four times as likely as noncatastrophizers to get PTSD over the course of their service. But even those catastrophizers who faced minimal combat were at greater risk for PTSD than noncatastrophizers, and at all other levels of combat as well.
Combat is near the extreme of the bad events that human beings face. So what is the lesson for the rest of us, the civilian population? If you catastrophize, you will likely suffer more from bad events, and if you have the opposite, optimistic mindset, you will likely be more resilient.
I confess that I am a catastrophizer, but I take my own medicine. I have learned how to combat catastrophization, and you can too. In our upcoming book Tomorrowmind, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and I discuss how you can build this strength. One potent exercise is “putting it in perspective”: you begin by imagining a troubling event which has an uncertain, but potentially terrible, explanation. For soldiers, the example was a man missing at night. They start with the worst possible explanation: “He’s dead, and it’s all my fault.” Then, the best possible: “His radio battery died, and he will show up in a few minutes.” Finally, the most likely, along with plans to cope with it: “He’s probably injured, so we need to retrace our steps, find him, and bring him back.” Following this pattern built resilience in soldiers.
When COVID-19 broke out as I neared my 78th birthday, I catastrophized: “I’m in the most vulnerable group. I am sure to die.” But then I asked myself about the best outcome: “I am very healthy and will likely escape altogether.” And then I focused on the most likely outcome, and I planned for it: “I will isolate for now as best I can, take all the vaccines, and escape with a mild case, if that.” There is no way to completely eliminate uncertainty from your life. But this exercise is one way to systematically reduce catastrophization—and, therefore, both maintain happiness despite uncertainty and develop emotional resilience.
Do you have Stinking’ Thinking’?
Are you a true Catastrophizer. . .
and you handle it by______________________
and now you will at least try to:
It’s really good to hit the rewind button sometimes
even if it’s all the way back to 1983
to know now
what we were shouting for then
and way before THEN. . .
NEWS FOR THE REAL WORLD
This morning, I want to wake up
with no headlines.
I want to find that my New York Times
has been replaced
with a worn-out copy of The Velveteen Rabbit,
and the Skin Horse
is inviting me to love the world
in all its broken realness.
I want to touch the Earth
where the soft fur
has been rubbed off
and see it with my fingertips.
When I feel the need to know who
is fighting with whom,
and what disaster occurred overnight,
I want to hear
the wind chimes in my backyard
whisper in the breeze,
“I am as real as anything you
will find on the front page.”
When the hard facts are just too hard,
I want to press
the tattered velveteen ears to my cheek
and remember that the hot cup of tea,
and the warm blanket,
and the beloved sleeping by my side
are every bit as real as the rage
that fuels the news,
and for today I want to embrace
the real I can touch
with my hands and see with my eyes,
and let the world rage on without me.
The best way for a little good news today
IS TO MAKE IT
AND ASSURE THAT EVERYONE IS A PART OF IT