Many years ago I encountered a poem that stirred the depths of me:
by Judy Brown
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
“Fire” still moves me to ask the question, “Do I have enough space in my life, so the fire of me can burn fully?”
How about you?
Are you choosing your life, or are you living someone else’s?
Ralph Waldo Emerson felt strongly about self-reliance… so much in fact, that he wrote an essay about it, which can be found in the famous collection of his work, "Emerson’s Essays".
Throughout his “Self-Reliance” essay, he says many times, and in many different ways, “Be yourself!” He believed that being who you are is worth ten-fold the copying of anyone else, and that offering the gift of your self is more valuable to the world than anything else you could offer. There you have it.
I imagine that Emerson must have been very tough-minded, and I also suspect that he was very much an individual. It must have been disconcerting and difficult for him to live in a world filled with copycats, terrified to find their own voice. But I state the obvious. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have written the essay.
It is ironic to me, with Emerson’s strong declaration of “find your own words; use not others’,” that he is one of the most quoted writers in metaphysics… “But he says it so well!” I declare, somewhat defensively…and with a grin.
Many times, I have said, “I do this work so that I can have more people to play with.” This is still ever so much the truth for me. I still want self-reliant people around me, because it supports me in being self-reliant, too, and that's why I teach self-reliance. That’s a game worth playing.
~Blessings, Rev Donald~
This past Sunday Rev Donald spoke about the choice we each make in every moment with respect to the tidal wave full of sharks or the carrot as our point of focus. I was ruminated on this topic as I drove home, thinking about how thoroughly and easily I can get pulled into fighting off the alligators that I forget that my purpose was, and remains, to drain the swamp. It is twice good to be reminded that intention follows attention and that where I focus my attention, where my treasure is, there my heart will be too.
The questions from last month's message series on Living Fully, What stories are living you? Who is your true self? Will you let that out and share it with the world? It reminds me of that Marianne Williamson quote that I, and most people I know, have a love-hate relationship with...
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
It's a pretty unnerving thought that I might actually have another purpose, another calling, that shakes me out of my comfort zone, again. And yet, the opportunities knock, the door will open if I but choose to open it. My hand is on the doorknob. What is true for you?
In his song “Just a Memory,” Elvis Costello sings, “Losing you is just a memory / Memories don’t mean that much to me.” Ouch! In fact, and when you hear Costello’s voice, you understand that his lines are ironic.
The truth is that memories mean everything to most people. It is generally understood that memories color or discolor relationships, experiences, work, play and notions of success or lack of success in life. They also shape our notions of whom we think we are.
Elvis adds later, “But the pen that I write with won’t tell the truth / ‘Cause the moments that I can’t recall / Are the moments that you treasure.” Herein lies the rub with memories: You might (or likely) have memories that another does not have, and thus cannot relate to, even when that memory seems absolutely real for you. Since the other person’s memories don’t coincide with yours, there is no common ground, and that creates insurmountable obstacles to long- and short-term relationships alike.
Think about this: Mark Twain penned, “It isn’t so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren’t so.” How, and where, does Twain strike you?
Everyone is completely convinced that his/her version of history is the correct version, so what do you do when you find that your version and the other person’s version differ?
Do you try to talk them into your version? Again and again and again, like, “If I keep telling them what really happened, they’ll sooner or later remember correctly.”
Do you accept the fact that your memory is faulty, and therefore, believe that your memory cannot be trusted?
Do you find yourself on one end or the other end of this continuum, or do you rest somewhere in between?
I think the key to sanity in this “he said/ she said” conundrum can best be found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quotation: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still function.”
The fact is, you are both correct. You have one memory: Yours, and the other person has another memory: Theirs. Someone is bound to object here with, “But somebody has to be right, don’t they? What really happened has to be what really happened, correct?”
The answer is definitively, “Yes. And what really happened is that two (or more) people experienced something, and no two people can experience exactly the same thing.
History is more likely to be more a function of agreement than it is of actual facts. The truth lives somewhere in the middle, and thus we discover a place of gratitude for all of our memories. Truly, they can separate, or they can connect. What choose, Ye?