Theourselves about what we are worthy or unworthy of — from the small luxuries of naps and watermelon to the grandest luxury of a passionate, creative calling or a giant and possible love — are the stories that shape our lives. Few things limit us more profoundly than our own beliefs about what we deserve, and few things liberate us more powerfully than daring to broaden our locus of possibility and self-permission for happiness. Bruce Lee knew this when he admonished that James Baldwin knew it when he criticized that .” Viktor Frankl embodied this in his insistence on .
The more vulnerable-making the endeavor, the more reflexive the limitation and the more redemptive the liberation. That complex, delicate, triumphal pivot from self-limitation to self-liberation in the most vulnerable-making of human undertakings — love — is what poet and philosopher, who , maps out in his stunning poem “The Truelove,” found in his book ( ) and read here, by David’s kind permission to my invitation, in his sonorous Irish-tinted English voice, in his singular style of echoing lines to let them reverberate more richly:
by David Whyte
There is faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours, especially if you have waited years and significantly if part of you never believed you could deserve this loved and beckoningout to you this way. I am thinking of faith, the testaments of loneliness, and what we feel worthy of in this .
Years ago, in the Hebrides, I remembered an older manevery morning on the grey stones to the shore of baying seals, pressing his hat to his chest in the blustering salt wind and praying to the turbulent Jesus hidden in the water. I think of the story of the storm and everyone waking and seeing the distant yet familiar figure far calling to them
. How we are all preparing for that abrupt waking, and thatyes, except it will not come so grandly so Biblically but more subtly and intimately in the face of the one you know you have to love
so that when we finally step out of the boat toward them, we find everything holds us. Everything confirms our courage, and if you wanted to drown, you could; still, you don’t because finally, after all this struggle and all these years, you won’t want to anymore. You’ve had enough of drowning\, and you want to live, You want to love, and you will walk across any territory and any darkness, however fluid and dangerous, to take the one hand you know belongs in yours.
“The Truelove” appears in the short, splendid course of poem-anchored contemplative practices David guides for neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris’smeditation toolkit, in which he reads each poem, offers an intimate tour of the landscape of experience from which it arose and reflects on the broader existential quickenings it invites.
Couple this generous gift of a poem with— David’s perspectival poem about living into the questions of our becoming, also part of Waking Up — then revisit the Noble-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska on and James Baldwin, who believed that poet is — on .