The World Speaks Everything to Us

Are you listening? I’ve been “listening” to William Stafford’s poetry this week. He reminds me of two super important things that I usually either confuse or forget. These bits of wisdom are:

1 – My mind is not always a reliable resource for questions like, “How am I?”.

2- The world around me is full of actual wisdom. The pace that this goodness is given is more like a drinking fountain than a Camelback:  it demands that I slow down, or actually stop to be able to drink it in. 

I mix these two up, believe my thoughts, with their negativity bias, and act on these thoughts. Then I get super busy! Check the calendar, do the practice, dash off to the appointment, scan the emails, eat quickly, collapse into bed.

The stream of notions generated by the brain is over 6,000 thoughts in a day. Even if only half of those are negative thoughts, that’s a lot to manage! If we get stuck in one track of looping, distressing or dark thoughts, without reaching out for solutions, we can likely end up with anxiety or depression or both.

Poetry, yogic practices, and time engaging with nature help me remember what I once knew. Here’s William Stafford’s poetic offering:

It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the ax handle: oh, let me stay
here humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me; for, somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and windmill
rear so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.

Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.

The world speaks the truth to us, but the mind? Its version of truth is a little trickier! Can we trust or believe our thoughts? What parts of the mind are we hearing when we’re up-regulated? How can we access those juicier parts, like compassion, altruism, and love?