Whose Words Live in You?

A dream come true.

Non-fiction – that’s how I define my reading interest. Current evidence: I relish the privilege and pleasure of imagining myself in Winston Churchill’s lifetime via 1,053 pages of The Last Lion. I pledge to you that we owe the very freedoms we enjoy today to Churchill’s indomitable and unyielding courage. He expressed his unwavering determination to save Great Britain in brilliant prose. Churchill’s words lived actively in every Briton. Dedicating bits of my daily reading time to understanding the how the contribution a single person makes to the culture, the survival, the success of an entire people is a privilege.

My own writing style, though, leans heavily to creative non-fiction and not into the formidable task of meticulously documenting lives in historical accuracy. I like weaving stories around significant pieces of others’ lives to distinguish their contributions to their family, their friends, their world.

The dream. Colum McCann is my favorite author. I literally swoon through his paragraphs of metaphor so fluid, so poignant, that they deconstruct and transport my own sense of what’s possible as a writer. So a dream, indeed, came true when Colum spoke about his new book, Apeirogon, at Powell’s Books on Fri night.

McCann shouldered the extraordinary challenge of telling the stories of Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli, whose daughters were both killed – by rubber bullet, by suicide bomber – as ten- and fourteen-year-olds. Colum spent nearly five years getting to know the fathers, who are friends, then weaving a vast story “crossing centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature and politics.”

So, while my intent in posting was [is] to share the renewed inspiration of how another powerful writer lives in me, I now recognize an unexpected moment of beauty and synergy. For nearly a year I’ve been stymied about what perspective to use to write a dear friend’s story for her family.  In typing the words “weaving stories around significant pieces of others’ lives “, and in alert hesitation, the answer came through me.

We really do live in and through one another. McCann’s voice becomes my voice; his voice is the voice of Bassam and Rami. We speak for each other. Words matter. Stories create shared awareness of our commonality; stories matter.

Whose voice takes its shape and carries its meaning in you? What are you called to say, to write, that seeds who you are in others?

Use your voice.

Love of the Beloved in the World

How does love of the beloved impact one’s presence in the world? What does love of the beloved inspire?

The energetic presence that awakens as love for a partner or spouse expands can be a useful tool to deepen all our relationships, even with persons as yet unmet.

We often think of all relationships as distinctly separate when, in actuality, we are simply making a clear set of choices about how we will relate to a given person often based on the role of that person in our lives. What if we feel into the love we share with a beloved and test its power on a friend, a co-worker or, perhaps, even a stranger? Doesn’t it just require momentary hesitation, a chance to drop the veil of perceived separation we feel for another? In that moment, the voice of love that has its origin in the same place in each of us and has its expression with our beloved can rise kindly, clearly, lovingly to create a new dynamic.

When that which you inspire awakens in me

our shared well full, molecules clinging

delicately to each other

as liquid love over a

tipped edge, I tap your strength,

a dip, a ladle

that I might share

courage not

mine as

a

drop,

a drop

placed in the

dry well of a

heart not yet full, but

longing for that which fills,

placed with the love you lent, the

nourishment that feeds us both and

ignites love’s soulful fire, awake now

in our lives’ tiny and wondrous beauties.

Happy couple in love making heart shape over precipice at sunset.

Can our courage be extended more broadly to alter the dynamic of a meeting, a conference? Can it influence important matters of public discourse? Can it be an expression of equanimity between people of different races, cultures, lifestyles? In each of us that love has only one origin – and is instantly accessible.

How might it feel to receive an unsolicited loving response from another? Do we not already revere those who speak the language of love to us? Can we each find it in ourselves to do just that?

In alert hesitation, how might I influence a relationship through love?

Use your voice.

Others Literally Live in Us, and We Live in Them

Can we yield to the quiet impulse to extend our very best selves knowing others will live it?

What traits, behaviors or ideas present in us do we notice as having originated in others? How do we carry those into the world to influence others? With awareness? With care?

20180401_120501.jpgIf I even loosely examine these questions, I recognize that parts of my speech, including innocuous things like colloquialisms, my attitudes, and my formulated opinions had their origins in family, friend or business relationships. Others literally live in me. In fact, we are vehicles for one another.

Naturally, as parents we have the ability to profoundly impact how our children see the world, how they form and maintain relationships and how they treat others. It’s a weighty responsibility. It is no less true and no less consequential in our adult relationships.

I practice what I term alert hesitation when speaking with others. I create space for a response that comes through me from a place other than a quick mind. It allows for what my spiritual teacher calls “knowledge born of direct experience.” It, in no way, impairs critical thinking or the ability to challenge another’s view as a point of discussion.

Speech is malleable, and each conversation is an opportunity to practice. Alert hesitation allows speech to flow into language, while perhaps even when making a vigorous argumentative point, that isn’t demeaning or deleterious. Sometimes, moments of alert hesitation generate space for unexpected responses that are kind, humility-filled and have depth.

Is what I have to say the part of me that I wish to live in someone else?