I am listening to a tape a friend loaned me. The title no longer exists. It’s been listened to and listened to until all markings are gone. But it’s a tape of David Whyte speaking to a group of people about embracing the whole of life: the dying half and the living half. He is speaking about life’s constant experience of being thrown out of our old place and going on to find the new. He speaks about the mercilessness of the soul’s attempt to live its own life, urging us out of moderation. This poem, in particular, speaks to me about the vibrancy of life and its demands.
Revelation must be
terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.
Imagine that moment
staring at the still waters
with only the brief tremor
of your body to say
you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.
Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world
you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now
and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment
as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.
As if you were meant to be exactly
where you are, as if
like the dark branch of a desert river
you could flow on without a speck
of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.
As if your place in the world mattered
and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of
its own bitter and beautiful cry
without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.
Knowing that it takes only
that one, terrible
word to make the circle complete,
revelation must be terrible
knowing you can
never hide your voice again.
— David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press