This poem was one of the earliest signs that I had decided to live after my husband Fred died. It came a couple of years after his death in 1997. The poem was inspired by a picture done by photographer Randy Jay Braun, a friend who made a career of making remarkable portraits of hula dancers, particularly those who lived on Maui. I have a poster of it still hanging in my bedroom.
(The dancer in the photograph above is Haunani Pascua from Maui’s Halau Hula o ka Makani Wili Makaha o Kaua’ula. Her teachers are kumu hula Keali’i Reichel and Uluwehi Guerrero.)
For me, hula is a metaphor for a particularly Hawaiian way of moving – with grace and beautiful intent, with meaning and mana in every movement.
The dancer at the edge of the water
Plays with the waves,
Following their movements
That wash across the sand.
In the glistening wet patterns,
Mirrors in the early morning light,
They reflect back the dancer
And her rhythmic movements
As she dips and bends and beckons
With her hands, her hips, her feet,
That recall the ancient patterns
As she dances for the old ones
And the ones who come after.
Her face is serene
And on her lips there is a smile
Of quiet joy and gentle remembering
And her movements flow like the waves
Of the moana that surrounds us,
That embraces and enfolds us,
And our gentle island home,
As she greets the day that is dawning,
As she celebrates the turning of the tide
On the sands of her birthplace
In the land that is her cradle,
She is dancing to her heartsong
And she flows like a wave
From another time.
The wet sands reflects the dancer in her glory;
The joy of her kupuna, she,
Her ancestors’ pride….
[created 27 April 1999]
by Netta Kanoho
Here’s a beautiful YouTube video by the Great Big Story video network about the dance’s most prestigious competition, the annual Merrie Monarch Festival held on the Big Island. The 2016 Miss Aloha Hula was Kayli Ka’iulani Carr. As you can see from the video, she exemplifies the spirit of the dance….
Pono is a Hawaiian word that is usually translated as “righteousness.” It is a bit more than that. It is a way of walking through the world that is centered and balanced. It’s the way a kanaka makua, a mature person, walks.
Mary Kawena Puku’i, one of our most beloved elders and an exemplary example of a kanaka makua, worked with Western scholars to document and preserve the nuances of Hawaiian thought. Here’s how she described such a person: “A kanaka makua thinks. He doesn’t jump into things.…He takes responsibility.…Controls temper…Is not scatterbrained.…Realizes that anger can cause hihia (an escalation of ill-feeling that turns a two-person argument into a family feud).… Sensible.”
A cool head is just half of the equation; it has to be balanced with a warm heart. For as Puku’i explains, “A kanaka makua is kind. He is thoughtful…senses the feelings of others.”
The concept was a developmental goal for Hawaiians. It was used as a measuring stick for behavior and a foundation for what Hawaiians consider to be a proper human being. It is, I am thinking, a good one to emulate.
And here’s another poem….
TRYING TO GET TO PONO
Trying to get to pono
is supposed to be easy….
Everybody weighs in,
making bulleted lists of all their wants that they call needs,
their expectations of how it’s all supposed to be —
(the world according to this one or that one) —
all of them frantically, urgently generating more and more puzzle pieces
that do not fit together,
no matter which way you turn them,
no matter how you try to jam them together.
And here I am, stuck in the middle of
this mass of push-and-shove,
everybody jockeying for some position,
looking for even the slightest advantage, the tiniest win….
everybody wailing, thinking some prize is slipping away
out of this one’s grasp or that one’s clutch,
playing tug-of-war with me as the rope.
everybody working up into some sort of rage or other,
spazzing ’bout the collapse of some now-broken world
they had built up in their heads that did not come to pass.
Time for a Cinderella-sister action, I suppose:
chopping off a little here,
slicing down a nubbin there,
trying to get some big ole luau foot to fit into
another teeny crystal slipper.
Trying to get to pono has got me thinking deep:
’bout how all the yammer about “rights”
don’t carry you to Right and Real and True,
’bout how the blather about everybody else’s “wrongs”
just sucks you into a vortex of oughta-shoulda dreck
that oozes up to inundate the Beauty and the Blessings
in a flood of me-me-me,
’bout how the bustle and the noise
increases exponentially as everybody hauls out everything
(including the old kitchen sink)
and tosses them in a pile in the middle of the road,
blocking through-traffic and causing gridlock –
a traffic jam of epic proportions.
Me, I figure I’m just the designated cop
assigned to stand on this traffic island in the middle of this intersection,
Philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
My own thought on this is that being a curious life-long learner is probably the best way to deal with this ever-changing world.
THE LIFE-LONG LEARNER DIFFERENCE
The following rambling TEDx lecture by Lord Stephen Carter was given at St. Paul’s School, a boys’ independent school that is one of the original nine British public schools. The school has been in existence since 1509 and is located on the banks of the River Thames that runs past Barnes in London.
Carter is a Scottish businessman in the technology industry as well as a politician. At one point (in 2008 and 2009) he served as a member of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government.
Because Carter wasn’t a Member of Parliament at the time, they had to appoint him to the House of Lords. He was created Baron Carter of Barnes. “Barnes is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames”…it says here.
In his talk, Carter explains the difference between formal education and life-long learning to a group of very bright high school kids. He expands on how expectations – your own and other people’s — influence the decision-making processes that help you build your life.
I like it because the audience is such a young group that the speaker has to break it down into small, easily understood bits….
The man has seen some changes in his own life and has been thrown into situations where he had to learn a lot very fast. He does know what he’s talking about.
WALKING YOUR OWN WALK
It’s a confusing thing to be trying to walk your own walk when there is only you hoping you’ll be able to figure out where you’re supposed to go. It never stops being confusing either because the world keeps changing willy-nilly.
Everybody all around you has got some sort of advice or other. Everybody’s got a guaran-TEED plan of action. The only problem is that none of the pre-packaged, ready-to-go plans ever really feel quite right for you. (They’re sort of like frozen TV dinners that way.)
All the pathways you have ever been shown or taught or told by all of the learned and experienced people in your life will still have to be filtered through your own head and your own heart.
Very likely once you’ve done that filtering you’ll go off on some other tangent all your own, on a path where no one can really advise you because nobody’s ever gone there before in quite the way you want to go.
Maybe somebody or other did try the path you’re taking and maybe they flew high and far and fast or maybe they crashed and burned. This means your new (or at least different) path can get a bit scary.
On the other hand, choosing to follow your own path can also be a relief. All those learned guys won’t be standing around nattering at you. Mostly they’ll stand there either scratching their heads or shaking them.
Ah, well…here’s another poem , a reaction to the injunction to think “outside the box.” Really, people…what DOES that mean?
ME AND MY BOX
I am my own niche,
I am my own box.
This wise guy here says so.
Here’s an exercise.
I am supposed to measure out
The dimensions of this box that is me
(So I can think inside it, I suppose),
And explore all the fascinating nooks and
Extraordinary crannies, the mysteriously
Mystical hidden places and super-special
Mazes of this box that is me.
The thing of it is (according to this wise guy),
I’m really supposed to want to
Step outside this box that
(According to this worthy expert) is me….
See, it says that right there.
If I want to step outside this box
(That is really me in disguise)
I still have to pull out the measuring tape
And I still have to count all the beans (or whatever)
My friend Carlene Greenlee sent me a couple of short poems to add to this endeavor. Carlene lives on the Big Island (Hawai’i).
She says about them, “Both poems were influenced by feelings of love. This old lady had no idea that being in love and ensuing heartbreak could occur at my advanced age. These two poems represent a conduit of romance becoming heart break. Heart ache remains an obscene affront to the passion, desire and vulnerable heart.”
STORMY NIGHT MUSINGS
Heavy tropical rains, thunderous crescendo of sounds.
I lie in my bed tangled in thoughts of loneliness
matched with my primal surrender to my deep feelings moored in affection.
Subterranean currents of need camouflaged for discovery in fluid grace.
April 17, 2015 Carlene Greenlee
My silent tears, the only warmth felt as my strangled sobs are contained
by my pressed hand and coiled fingers, as though the little Dutch boy holding back the dam has given me lessons
My voice inflates with hesitant squeaky melancholy
before the pure rushes of air like bellows creates a visceral sound
of abject sorrow that gathers momentum
the hot spittle lubricates the sound, careening off the sheared canyons of my voice
A soliloquy of solace.
August 8, 2016. Carlene Greenlee
[Please note: If any of you would like to contribute a poem to this page, please let me know by leaving a comment below…. I’d be happy to hear from you.]
Sculptor Auguste Rodin contended, “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”
This poem was born after I attended a formative meeting for a new support group for professional residential property managers. My frustration level was high and I was NOT in a good mood…especially when one outspoken know-it-all felt moved to tell us her Very Important Point over and over again. It was, of course, a point that many of us also-experienced folks already knew.
The woman just went on and on. (Sigh!) Maybe she thought she was helping. Maybe she should have done a survey or something. The funny part was that this one was a relative newbie in a room full of people who had been in the business for decades. Her “revelation” wasn’t much of anything.
The incident reminded me of one very telling comment by an old mentor: “You’ve got two ears. You’ve got one mouth. Try to use them in those proportions.”
The meeting also reminded me that I no longer have the patience that is needed to be a part of a group – any group. Soon I’m going to become a hermit, I am thinking. However, with this one, I figured that anything that I can use to make a poem is not necessarily a waste of my time….
I can’t do it…not again.
The trauma-drama worlds
Of this one’s shoulds
And that one’s don’ts
Are distracting now.
I am on a mission,
Looking for a way to get this stupid thing
(That I’ve spent all of this time cobbling together)
People seem to confuse “labyrinth” and “maze.” They are both constructed paths you have to walk and they both have beginnings and ends, but their purposes are very different. I am coming to the conclusion that I am living my life in a labyrinth…or at least I want to be.
So what’s the differences between them? Let me list the ways….
A LABYRINTH is a spiral walking path. A MAZE is loaded with compartmentalized confusing paths, most of which lead to dead ends.
The goal when you walk a LABYRINTH is to follow the path to the center, stop, turn around and walk back out. The objective when you enter a MAZE is to escape as soon as possible.
A LABYRINTH is actually a form of moving meditation. A MAZE is an analytical puzzle to be solved.
A LABYRINTH is a form of moving meditation. A MAZE is meant to be disorienting.
You can lose yourself in a LABYRINTH; you can get lost in a MAZE.
A LABYRINTH can shift consciousness from linear to non-linear thinking. Usually a MAZE engenders the I-hope-I-make-it feeling.
A LABYRINTH is about journey and is a metaphor for walking through the Void. The purpose of a MAZE is to get through to the other side.
It’s a funny thing. When you lay it out like that, you can actually suss out that doing the MAZE thing as a way of life is probably toxic. I mean, they use mazes to test and play head-games with rats.
Through the ages, for more than 4,000 years, people have been fascinated with labyrinths.
This rock carving at Meis, Pontevedra, Galicia in Spain could date from as early as the Atlantic Bronze Age. (Rock carvings are notorious difficult to date.)
Here is the reverse of a clay tablet from Pylos with the motif of the Labyrinth. The terracotta tablet is the earliest datable representation of the 7-course classical labyrinth. It was recovered from the remains of the Mycenaean palace of Pylos, destroyed by fire ca 1200 BCE. “There is no evidence for a connection between the labyrinth design and the legend of Theseus at this early date,” it says here. The tablet is currently in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
The story that’s associated most closely with the labyrinth is the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. In Greek mythology, the labyrinth was an elaborate structure at the palace of King Minos of Crete at Knossos. It was designed and built by Daedalus, the king’s legendary architect and artificer. It is said that Daedulus had a hard time figuring out how to get out of the labyrinth once he had built it, which tends to make me think that the thing was actually an elaborate maze. Whatever.
In the story, the labyrinth was built to contain a monster-man that was reputed to be the son of the king’s nymphomaniac wife by the Sacred Bull. (No, I am not going there….) Minos, a classic tyrant, used to exact tribute from the neighbors, hauling off their young men and women who were pushed into the labyrinth, probably as food for the Minotaur. The Minotaur was killed by the hero Theseus.
This Roman mosaic shows Theseus at his moment of triumph. The picture’s apparently the work of an anonymous U.S. government employee. The mosaic is in Rhaetia, Switzerland.
Labyrinth designs have been found in many different cultures. This intricate carving depicts a scene from a legend from the Mahabharata, where the warrior Abhimanyu enters the chakra-vuyha-Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu, India.
The following map of Jericho was photographed from a page in the 14th century Fahri Bible written by Elisha ben Avraham Cresca. Another labyrinth….
Here’s a small “turf maze” that looks very much like a labyrinth. It was photographed by Simon Garbutt in the 1970’s and later uploaded into Wikimedia Commons. He says about it, “City of Troy. The only surviving example in the North Riding of this type of grass maze. It is located by a roadside in the Howardian Hills of Yorkshire, England, near the villages of Dalby and Skewsby, close to Sheriff Hutton, a few miles north of York.”
And here’s a surprise: a labyrinth stone in America…. In the Reinhardt Canyon on the easterly side of the Lakeview Mountains in Southern Calfornia, there’s a prehistoric petroglyph near Hemet, Riverside County, California. It’s a California Historical Landmark and is called the Hemet Maze Stone.
Many cathedrals have labyrinths incorporated in their design. One of the most famous is the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.
In modern times there has been a revival of the interest in labyrinths. Much of this began with the work of Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, an Episcopal priest at Grace Chapel in San Francisco. She’s written three books on the subject. Her first, WALKING A SACRED PATH: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice, sparked the beginnings of a world-wide cultural phenomenon that is called “The Labyrinth Movement.”
Now there are non-profit groups and websites that focus on the labyrinth as a tool for getting back to your own center. Public spaces have been built that incorporate the labyrinth in their design and a slew of books have been written telling folks how they can use the ancient design to walk around in their own minds. Labyrinth jewelry and paraphernalia proliferate.
I do not know whether Artress or any of the other good people in the Labyrinth Movement have actually uncovered any ancient esoteric secrets. (Mages are notorious for being secretive folks who just do not share their hard-won mystical lore with the uninitiated.)
However, using the curving pathways of a labyrinth to help you visualize an inward journey that leads to the center of your being and then out into the world again is a powerful metaphor that apparently works for many people.
My take on all this is that people are hungry to find peace of mind. The Labyrinth Movement and all things labyrinth is a direct outgrowth of that hunger.
On to the poem….
THERE HAS TO BE A WAY
There has to be a way to understand the Tao
That’s not unmoving unattachment,
Untouching and untouched:
A way that doesn’t mean apart
Like the monk who sits in a cave
Staring at a blank and rocky wall,
Exploring inner labyrinths,
Breaking through into the Real
By deciphering quadruple entendres and
Constructing metaphors that solidify
Into a hammer which breaks down the Self
Until there’s nothing there.
There has to be a way to reach the Oneness
That lets you swim in it and revel in its joys;
That lets you hold all its sorrows
And build a wondrous web that
Encloses, cradles and connects you in
The Beauty and the sadnesses of Real;
A way that lets you stretch between
The Heaven and Earth within you and
Lets you grow – yet another bamboo stalk –
Always bending, ever steadfast, never still;
A way that lets you dance within its circle
And reverence the truths, the love you feel.
I guess that this is what I search for:
A way to walk and dance into the Real
That keeps world-wonders fully in my heart
And celebrates the goodness that I feel
Inside the ordinary simple and the small.
For me, these things are as important
As the magic in the silence of the stars.
I don’t want to lose the butterflies and tadpoles
And papas cradling babies tenderly.
The pregnant silences of sheer cliffs,
The songs of birds and gentle rustling grasses,
The many songs that water sings…all call to me.
I love this world with its many faces,
Its many moods and modes and ways of being.
I cannot turn away, no matter what the wise ones say.
For me, the world holds everything that’s dear.
I am sure they are right in what they tell me;
I do not doubt they reached magic and the Real.
They flew up high above all the tangles.
The confusions that plague me, I know they did not feel.
The book-jacket bio says, “Sophia Amoruso turned her hobby selling vintage clothing on eBay into Nasty Gal, which was named ‘fastest growing retailer’ by Inc magazine in 2012. This is her first book. She lives in Los Angeles.”
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin, GP Putnam’s Sons (2014)
The book is part memoir, part philosophical discourse with tips on how to dance down the Freedom Road on your own outlier terms. It’s spiced with snippets of thought-streams from other Girl Bosses who are also doing that very thing.
I need to state a caveat here: I am a fan of the lady and of the company so it is unlikely that this will be an unbiased review.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
I can understand why thousands of wanna-be fashionistas the world over flocked to the eBay shop, Nasty Gal Vintage, to participate in the shop’s weekly auctions. Its intriguing mix of offerings were fashion options not found in a typical mall store, for one thing. Amoruso’s customers and fans helped the young, wide-eyed anarchist of a budding style maven grow her virtual shop into a $100 million-plus corporation in a little over seven years.
The girl set up a gypsy camp in the middle of eBay’s ultra-nostalgic retro-babes and kitschy craft and folk art crowd. From the start, Nasty Gal Vintage was different.
Amoruso laid out her thrift-shop finds and costumery with a definite, edgy outsider attitude. She labored obsessively, developing her buyer’s eye and perfecting her sales pitch and presentation, constantly improving her photographic layouts and descriptive copy, all the while offering exceptional service to her customers.
The little rag shop took the world by storm, stomping through the fences of small e-Biz cow pastures as she used her impressive social media skills to build her following. The shop caught on and kept expanding until she was able to move out of eBay into the wider, wilder world of higher fashion where she continues to carve a niche of her very own.
Amoruso’s remarkable journey began after she had bottomed out. The footloose freegan lifestyle she had adopted as a youngster had dead-ended and she boomeranged home with a satchel-full of lessons learned and a crummy credit score.
She had made it through many mistakes and misadventures very fast and emerged relatively unscathed. She had learned what NOT to do; she knew she had to do different. So she did – step-by-step-by-step. It worked.
In #GIRLBOSS, Amoruso recounts what her focus on radical experimentation in empirical thinking and growth-by-practical-application required of her and where it took her. The basic thought-sequence for this style of dancing goes like this:
What happens if I do this? [Go do it.]
Did it work?
Yes? [Cool! Do it again…]
No? [Rats! Do something else.]
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This strategy is Amoruso’s basic approach to life: continuous experimentation and balls-to-the-wall-chutzpah execution. With this as her primary mode of operation, Amoruso’s shop grew and so did she.
She tells us she earned her virtual MBA by doing this dance. Doors opened when she took wild chances and pounded on them boldly. There were knowledgeable people along the way who were willing to help the eager-beaver learner. She attracted like-minded others who had their own skills to add to her own and keep the thing moving along. There were more adventurous experiments to try. It kept on be-bopping on as the blood, sweat, and tears flowed.
My own takeaway from all this razzmatazz can be summarized by one quote from Amoruso. “When you approach everything as if it’s a big, fun experiment, then it’s not that big of a deal if things don’t work out. If the plan changes, that can be even better. There are secret opportunities hidden inside very failure….”
I do recommend this book as a fun read. The author does take her bootstrap-business-that-grew with utmost seriousness, but she takes her own self and her life so far lightly. It is a winsome combination.
For people who are already trying to flow with the ambiguity and uncertainty of just diving in there and swimming like mad while staying alert and making course corrections all along the way, #GIRLBOSS can be a joyous bit of inspiration.
And maybe the more cautious among us might be inclined to loosen our holds on our own tightly gripped, obsessively detailed five- and ten-year life plans with all our lists of prioritized imperative goals and got-to’s that grew out of them. Maybe it will help us take a look at what we are doing now and pay closer attention to how the world is actually responding to our moves.
This, I am thinking, is a very good thing.
And here’s a poem….
Child, there are so many
Inequities and injustices
That if the Heavens wept for them
The rain would never stop.
All I’m hearing are
The things you are against, against, against.
There are so many.
“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.
Tell me what you dream.”
Your angry strident voice delineates
The he-did-this and
The she-did-that and
The they-did-wrong and
You keep shouting, “No, no, no!”
And the anger rises, bursting
Through blood-red rage
Into a white-hot cauterizing
Flame of righteous indignation.
“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.
Tell me what you dream.”
Once I was as you are;
Raised up the banners high,
A shining maiden-knight on my gallant steed,
Leading a charge against overwhelming odds.
Glorious, it was…
And mostly nothing changed –
Just shifted like a miasmic mist
Morphing into other vagaries.
“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.
Tell me what you dream.”
My bright and shining armor
Grew dented and dusty,
My stout, strong heart
Grew battered, grew weary.
The enemy hordes kept coming,
Kept coming, kept coming,
Breaking through, overwhelming every stand
In their relentless numbers.
“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.
Tell me what you dream.”
On the side of the road where I had fallen,
An old rogue stood, looking down
At the wreck of me.
His twinkling eyes sparkled
As he reached out his hand
And hauled me back up on my feet.
And that is when he said,
“Tell me what you’re for, young rebel.
Tell me what you dream.”
by Netta Kanoho
picture credit: via Amazon.com
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Professor Youngme Moon’s writings fascinate me. One of the things she says in her book, DIFFERENT: Escaping the Competitive Herd, is this: “There will always be mainstream and there will always be minor streams.” My own thought on that is if there will always be streams, then the only thing to do is stream on!
Thinking on finding my own niche is always a difficulty since my brain apparently doesn’t deal with mainstream well. It’s unlikely that I’ll come up with something insanely different. However, my way of seeing things may be enough to tweak people’s head a little and that might be enough.
Dr. Moon’s explanation of Breakaway Brands sounds like a good thing to me. I want to be able to play head-games with my customers and I want them to buy into my invitation for them to play too.
I am wholly convinced that my purpose in life is to play and to help other people play. This has gotten me into deep kimchee with the various and sundry serious and earnest people who surround me, but I notice that if I do stuff really, really well and I keep on doing it and doing it and doing it, then they let me play my way.
Another professor (emeritus) Brian Sutton-Smith, once pointed out, “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression. To play is to act out and be willful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one’s prospects.” That earned a Really Big Yes from my gut…
The critical ingredient for this strategy is, according to Dr. Moon, “transparency.” You tell folks what you’re doing so they can decide if they might like to try it. And then you show them how they, too, can do whatever.
The cool part is that Breakaways don’t have to be all that different from ordinary stuff. You just have to issue a new set of eyes with every iteration. Hmmmm….
It seems to me that could be a good thing to work on.
Gene Belmont is another regular at the Maui Live Poets gatherings. I especially love his story poems about the by-gone days of his raucous youth. When I asked him for a poem that held special meaning for him, he sent me this pensive, meditative one that he had written….
He says, “I wrote this poem straight through in one sitting. I read it once in silence, and once again aloud. My thought was that if I fiddled with it the rhythm would be compromised. Not editing. Unforgivable I know, but I stand fast.”
It is my contention that, basically, poems are piles of metaphors stacked on top of each other like those funny-looking block stacks in a Jenga! game, with holes for the bits you’ve left out (or have taken out) because they were not needed to transport your reader into some other point-of-view.
That juxtaposition of metaphors works because of ability of the mind of the listener or the reader to make connections between the images the poet offers up. The audience that can hook the offered images together with other things from their own life experiences enhances the liveliness of the poetry.
The audience works as hard as the poet in making a poem come alive. At our monthly Maui Live Poets meetings in Makawao the poets try to remember to thank the people who are “practicing their audience skills” and are disinclined to present their work. It’s not easy being a good audience….
A NEW ORLEANS POEM-WALL OF HOPE
One brilliant way of making use of metaphors to build connection and community is a work by New Orleans artist Candy Chang, who turned an abandoned building in her neighborhood into a poem of sharing hopes and dreams.
In the fall of 2011, the artist and a bunch of friends painted one wall of the building using hearse-black blackboard paint. Chang stenciled an incomplete phrase over and over on that wall: “Before I die, I want to _________.” Chalk was provided so passersby could write their thoughts.
The entire wall was covered with people’s answers overnight. More of the walls were painted black and the question was repeated over and over and answered over and over by the hundreds of people who visited the site. The wall went viral. It became an international phenomenon as other artists wanted to make wall-poems of hope for their own neighbors.
This YouTube video is a TED-talk by Chang (one of many) about the wall. It was uploaded by SILYMEAN on March 27, 2015. The poem still continues to grow….
Think about it. How would YOU fill in that sentence? What dreams and hopes lurk in the depths of you? What do you want to do before you end?
The Wall became a catalyst for hope and connection because the audience collaborated in its becoming a reality. Very private thoughts appeared boldly in a public place where everybody could see and touch and respond by maybe dredging up their own hopes and dreams to add to the space. The wall became a powerful thing with tremendous mana and meaning.
Every one of the answers to the question Chang asked was a metaphor, a distillation of one more life walking past the wall. All together they made a stirring celebration of the connection of all the lives who touched that wall and the minds that reached out to touch each other.
THINKING ON DEATH LEADS TO THINKING ON LIFE
In my own life, I’ve worked at thinking on death mostly because the impermanence of it all does tend to keep getting shoved in my face. Everything with a beginning also has an ending. A simple truth, but also one of the hardest of all to look at when it is your own death you are contemplating or the death of a person you love.
Wise guys say that learning to face your own ending with equanimity will go far in furthering your knowledge of how you want to live your life. I am far from wise, but I do try to work on it.
Here’s a poem that I made during one of those practice sessions:
Somebody once said that probably
The best we could hope for (at the end of our lives)
Was having the “right regrets.”
That got me thinking:
What are the RIGHT regrets?
When I come to die,
I am sure I shall regret not personally
Touching and tasting and seeing
More of this wondrous world of ours.
But, I think, I’ll keep that one.
I won’t exchange it for the notion that
Someone I loved reached for me and I was gone….
Perhaps I like hearth fires more than I like campfires.
Hestia rules me, I suppose,
And with that, I am content.
I know I will not regret giving my heart or my trust
To the people who wander through my life.
I will regret, instead, that some of them proved unworthy of me.
I know I’ll probably regret my wretched lack of skillful means
For walking in the ambiguity that is this World of Dust.
I’ll regret the mind that’s too slow, perhaps,
To catch the glimmer of the most righteous paths to walk.
I will not regret turning my unsure hands
To the tasks set in front of me and doing the best I can
With the less-than-perfect equipment I was issued.
I will never regret telling my truth,
Despite the fact that it was often misconstrued
By people who were not telling their own.
I will regret only not having eyes that see clearer
And ears that listen deeper.
I’m not sure whether these regrets are “right” or not.
But then, when I leave,
I doubt I’ll be carrying much baggage.
by Netta Kanoho
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