Posts Tagged ‘humility’

I live in an odd culture. Americans are encouraged to prize individuality on a broad scale, with our celebrities and our icons. Yet we are also individually discouraged from lifting ourselves up, as we are accused of being arrogant, and there are many who will try to knock or pull us down.

We are taught that each life has meaning, but are then encouraged to act in ways that disregards that precious value in each living being. We say that all people are unique, but then are ridiculed if we stress that each individual is special in a way that is separate from being “more than” or “better than” another person.

Men and women experience these pressures differently, but we each are subject to this push-pull of “try harder” and “don’t try so hard.” None of this seems designed to help us discover who that unique being is inside of us. Few examples help us see that it’s not only possible to meet and make friends with this contradictory, mysterious inner chorus of thoughts and feelings inside us… it’s the only way to connect with the truest friend we can ever have.

American culture is very off-balance because we are continually distracted from finding our center. For whatever reason, the pushing and pulling and chaos and stress is a constant force, keeping our eyes and ears focused on the outside, rather than inward. Yet just as on a centrifuge you must pull your arms and legs close to your body to keep still along the wall, in this spiral of life we must pull our thoughts and feelings close to our selves to find stillness.

Once we have found our center, we can enjoy that sense of perspective that helps us truly see one another, as ourselves. Once we connect with that stillness, we have an easier time recognizing that same spark in others, valuing their core as much as we value our own. We aren’t in competition to find that precious gift of peace, as we’ve discovered that peace can only be created from within.

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We are but one heart 
If you should meet the Buddha
Bow to your true self

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I want to maintain a habit of posting more often, so I’ve sat down a few times today to write about a dream I had last night.  Other things came up (more of what kinda ticked me off a little yesterday), so that didn’t happen.

So instead I’d like to share here my thoughts I’d had while visiting The Dad Poet, specifically his post A Thursday Love Poem, “The Four Moon Planet,” by Billy Collins.  The topic came up about poets such as Robert Frost, who are often characterized as “simple” and “accessible” as though those were bad things for a poet to be.  Personally, I think those are incredibly difficult things for a poet who wishes to convey truths and meanings, especially since so many people will choose not to look for such treasures in homespun verse.

I can’t think of better phrasing for what else I want to say, so I’ll just copy/paste my comment here:

I think the issue so many people have with Frost is that so many of us “do poetry”. We like to get deep into it, deconstruct obscure pieces of a line, and marvel at the twists and turns in complex imagery and turns of phrase. All one may do with Robert Frost is follow his simple thread, and if one isn’t careful, come to the end of it and find just one simple little knot that isn’t doing anything all that special.

And that right there is the whole point, to me, for many of the reasons you’ve put in your post and also your comment above. Robert Frost puts on this “just a country poet puttin’ stuff down plain” personae in his poetry as well, but I’ve known quite a few country poets so I know the gig. It’s the same gig as the wandering taoist monk: you put stuff out there plainly and matter-of-fact because that’s what the world is, that’s where you find those “hidden” and deep meanings that tug in your gut.

I guess what I’m saying is… Too many people use poetry as an exercise in scanning the stars for hidden constellations, while the real diamonds are down in the grubby ole earth. I like best the poem that sits down in the dirt with me and draws pictures with one dusty finger.

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Yesterday I was talking with someone about how much we should want something, before we’d start losing sight of what’s right in our pursuit of it, what the cost is.  I think what I figured is that the trick is to want something in the context of what the cost is and what the effect would be, to us and others — both based on what it would mean if we pursued it, and what it would mean if we didn’t.
There’s a cost to not pursuing our dreams.  Sometimes the cost is to us, and sometimes the cost is to those who would be helped if we achieved them.  So we shouldn’t be discouraged to dream wisely and well.  We should only feel discouraged not to.

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