Thoughts from my desk
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Joy Harjo, 1951
This poem speaks to me of hope and joy at finding our place in life, connecting to the people, places and things that make our lives meaningful. What is it that makes your life feel meaningful? Who or what do you connect to? Are there things that don't feel quite sorted or that you'd like to focus on improving or changing this year? I look forward to hearing from you if that's the case...
For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns—
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road.
And try to stack them in a better load.
For many, the summer break can be a chance to set down some burdens and take stock, re-stack everything in a better way perhaps. Counselling can provide the same opportunity too.
What is it that you would like to put down?
What would you like to "stack in a better load"?
Joy and Sorrow
Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
I sat with someone today as he mourned the loss of a relationship and was reminded of this poem. What I am reflecting on is how hard it is to conceive of our ability to be joyous when we are in so much pain. I find hope in the poet's words - "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." - knowing that our ability to love deeply and joyously is why we sometimes feel so bereft and bewildered when it disappears. I know deep down that when I am in the depths of despair, joy is waiting for me too...
What is it that speaks to you in this poem?
What brings you joy and sorrow in your life?
Do you agree with the poet that joy and sorrow are inseparable?
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
I saw some trees in blossom today, for me they are the first of the new spring season and it brought to mind Larkin’s poem about trees. So many interpret the first stanza as melancholic but for me there is promise and hope contained in it –
What is it that is coming to fruition in your life after a long winter of seeming nothingness?
Is this the time for you to begin afresh, afresh, afresh?
What would that mean for you, what would your life look like if you did begin afresh?
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
This poem speaks to me about having lost one's sense of individuality in the relationship and getting to know yourself again after the demise of a relationship.
Have you ever been in this position – so unaware of your own wisdom and what is right for you because you are desperately trying to make those around you happy, trying to fulfil their desires for them?
What steps did you take to get in contact with “the stranger who has loved you all your life”?
I came across this poem the other day and it resonated with me regarding this time of year - I notice myself scurrying from the cold and dark outside to the warmth and comfort of indoor heating; and my longing for longer days. What do you notice about yourself at this time of year?
The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.
The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace.
The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
Purrs all day.