quote du jour ~mark nepo

…when things fall apart, they make a lot of noise. When things come together, they do so quietly and slowly. And so, we often miss them. Our culture is obsessed with how things fall apart. The news reports only the noise of things breaking down. The weather is even called Storm Watch. Yet things are constantly coming together, though we have forgotten how to hear them.

~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

be the lake…

It was on another shore, later in life, that I sat on a worn cliff… I spent that afternoon in silence, just watching the vast ocean spray the stone and re-form itself, coating every surface, as if to soothe the stone’s hardness. I came away convinced that the sea is a great teacher of receiving. Always rising and falling like the clear blood of the earth, the formless water receives every thing that enters it. It rejects nothing. Always transparent, the open water gently covers everything; softening whatever it touches, giving itself completely without losing any of itself. The more I watched, the more I realized that the sea is both strong and gentle, sensitive and unwavering, it only takes the shape of what holds it or enters it. Whatever breaks its surface ripples through its entire being. So much like the heart of God. So much like the heart of experience, God’s smaller face in the world. I came away with spray on my face wanting to be like the sea, to love like the sea: to receive and give myself to everything I meet, softening its way while making it glisten.

~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

I’ve searched in recent years for an image that could be a touchstone for me when life’s storms blow up, when I’m faced with difficult people or situations, when I encounter pain and heartache both in myself and in others. I’m one of those people who, for better or worse, is like a tuning fork for other people’s feelings and moods—what they’re feeling resonates in me, and I often have to distance myself to regain my balance. Continue reading

the sustenance of solitude

There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.
~May Sarton,
Journal of a Solitude

I figured out while I was still in my twenties that when I spent a fair amount of time around other people, I then had to spend some time by myself to recharge. At the time, I never would have called myself an introvert. After all, I liked being around other people. I was a performer. I choreographed and taught dance. I went out disco-dancing with friends till the wee hours of the morning.

Back then, the generally accepted image of an introvert was a painfully shy person who could barely look you in the eye or have a conversation and would rather stay home and read than be around other people. (They certainly wouldn’t be comfortable getting up in front of people to perform!) Nowadays, however, introverts and extroverts are a little better understood, and I’ve come to realize that, although there are people who would be surprised to hear me say so, I’m a classic introvert.

There are a lot of articles out there these days about introverts and extroverts. You can take any number of quizzes to see which you are. One article I read  a few months ago observed (correctly) that it ultimately comes down to energy: introverts give or expend energy when they’re around other people, and extroverts receive or absorb energy when they’re around people. This is why introverts feel drained when they’re around other people for too long without some alone time to refuel and recharge.

“I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces.” Continue reading

excerpt du jour ~nepo

. . . Can we hear the sound of light being folded in a river passing under a bridge? . . . Can we listen for truth like music to come out of silence and return to silence? . . . Can we listen in the way a cloud receives light and lets it through? . . .

~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

quote du jour ~gilbert – the resting place…

The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go.

~Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love

quote du jour ~arrien

I trust the mystery. I trust what comes in silence and what comes in nature where there’s no diversion. I think the lack of stimulation allows us to hear and experience a deeper river that’s constant, still, vibrant, and real. And the process of deep listening with attention and intention catalyzes and mobilizes exactly what’s needed at that time.

~Angeles Arrien

thoughts + quote du jour ~rilke

I woke this morning with an unexplained sadness wafting through me. I thought perhaps it was just a mood left over from an early-morning dream, but then I remembered that I’ve felt this sadness more than once in the week or so since I returned to Raleigh—since I came homea life event/change that I’m happy about, that I wanted. I’ve also had many moments of sudden, leaping joy and quiet peace…these made sense. But why sadness?

Then, later today, I came across the Rilke quote below on Facebook:

It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

As I read the quote, I felt the truth of Rilke’s words drop into place in my soul. He describes perfectly the sense of what I’d been feeling. As I considered his words, I realized that this morning’s sadness was not a heavy melancholy, but, as Rilke said, a presence, something to be embraced, absorbed, taken in. I will stop here, for to attempt to articulate what I think I now understand on a deep, wordless level would be futile. That the insight is there, however fragile, is enough.