The power of a beautiful question

The thing about the past is it’s not the past. It’s right in this room, in this conversation.

As a child, I had powerful experiences with poetry, where I felt literally abducted (taken away) by poetry; just like a hawk had come down and taken me away in its claws and carried me off.

I remember reading poetry as a child and thinking: this is language written by adults who have not forgotten the primary visions and insights of childhood.

I left science (as a Naturalist in the Galapagos Islands) and went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences I had in Galapagos. Science rightly is always trying to remove the “I” but I was really interested in the way the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos I was in deeply attentive states, hour after hour watching animals and birds and landscapes. I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had – inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs – but rather my identity actually depended on how much attention I paid to things other than myself. As my attention deepened, it broadened my own sense of presence. I began to realize that the only things that are real are at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you. Whatever you desire of the world will not come to pass exactly as you like it. But at the same time, whatever the world desires of you will also not come to pass. What actually occurs is at this meeting, this frontier.

David Whyte (poet, philosopher)

 

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