memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep
beside me and never dreamed afraid.
There should be stars for great wars like ours.
- Sandra Cisneros
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
- Mary Oliver, Thirst
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
- Mary Oliver, Thirst
while in haiti, i met a couple who recited this poem. the husband read it in its native spanish and the wife translated it into english. it’s beautiful.
You’re not depressed, you’re distracted. Distracted from the life that fills you, from the life that surrounds you: dolphins, forests, seas, mountains, rivers.
Don’t fall for what your brother fell for, who suffers for one person when there are 5,600 millions people in the world.
Besides, living alone isn’t so bad. I have a good time deciding what I want to do every time and it’s because of solitude that I know myself, a fundamental thing for living.
Don’t fall for what your father fell for, who feels old because he’s 70 years old and forgets that Moses guided the exodus at 80 and Rubistein played Chopin like nobody else, at 90. To mention just two familiar cases.
You’re not depressed, you’re distracted because you think you lost something, which is impossible because everything has been given to you. You didn’t make a single hair in your head, so you don’t own anything.
And life doesn’t take things from you, it liberates you from them. It makes you lighter so you can fly higher, so you can reach fullness. From the cradle to the tomb it’s a school so what you call problems are really just lessons. You didn’t lose anybody, those who died have just gone ahead, because that’s where we’re all going. Besides, the best of them, their love, stays in your heart. Who could say Jesus is dead? There’s no death, there’s moving. And on the other side, wonderful people wait for you: Gandhi, Michelangelo, Whitman, St. Augustine, Mother Theresa, your grandmother and my mother, who thought poverty was closer to love because money distracts us with many things and alienates us because it makes us suspicious.
Do only what you love and you’ll be happy, and he who does what he loves is fated for success, which will arrive when it should, because what must be will be and will come naturally. Don’t do anything under obligation or compromise but for love. Then there will be fullness and everything is possible in it. And effortless because it’s the natural force of life what moves you; what lifted me up when the plane that carried my wife and daughter crashed; what kept me alive when doctors gave me only 3 or 4 months to live. God put you in charge of a human being and it’s you. You must make yourself happy and set yourself free, it is only after this that you’ll be able to share real life with the rest. Remember Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you”.
Reconcile with yourself, stand in front of a mirror and think that the creature you’re looking at is a work of God and decide right now to be happy because happiness is an acquisition.
And happiness is not a right but a duty because if you’re not happy, you’re bringing down the whole neighborhood. A single, talentless, coward man had six millions Jewish brothers killed. There are so many things to celebrate and our time on earth is so short that suffering is a waste of time. We have to celebrate the snow of the winter and the flowers of the spring, chocolate from Perusa, French baguettes, Mexican tacos, Chilean wines, the seas and rivers, Brazilian soccer, One Thousand and One Nights, The Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Pedro Páramo, Manzanero’s boleros and Whitman’s poetry, Mäiller, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velásquez, Picasso and Tamayo, among other wonders.
And if you have cancer or AIDS, only two things can happen and they’re both good: If it beats you, it sets you free from that annoying body: I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m tired, I want to, I’m right, I have doubts… and if you beat it, you’ll be humbler, more grateful and therefore easily happy. Free from the enormous weight of guilt, responsibility and and vanity, willing to live each moment as profoundly as it must be lived.
You’re not depressed, you’re just not busy. Help the boy who needs you, that boy will be your son’s business partner. Help the elderly and the young ones will help you when you’re older. Besides, service is sure happiness, like enjoying nature and caring for it for those who’ll come. Give beyond measure and you’ll receive beyond measure.
Love until you become what is loved and even until you become love itself. And don’t let a few suicides and homicides confuse you, goodness is the majority but you can’t tell because it’s quiet. A bomb is louder than a stroke but for each bomb that destroys there are millions of strokes that feed life.
Very few things as beautiful as these words have been given to me, that they seem to come out not just from a kind soul but from a very human one. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and I hope we all put them in practice. Now, let’s live and complain less, don’t you think?
- Facundo Cabral
* original title: No Estas Deprimido, Estas Distraido
This was originally posted on September 4, 2010.
Life is calling you. All the time. Do this. Do that. Don’t do anything at all. There’s always a fork in the road. Sometimes you don’t even know it’s there, but it is. Sometimes you hear it, see it, feel it…this urge…this moment that comes to visit briefly. It may whisper, it may shout, but it’s always saying something. Are you listening?
The perpetual, invisible fork is the following question: how are you going to respond? To what? To everything.
We allow the outer world to control our inner world because we don’t understand that the more we control our inner world, the more we control the outer world. It often acts the other way around, but we’re so much more effective in our lives when we understand this. The past few weeks have proven this to be true.
Out of nowhere, my job suddenly became a place I slightly dreaded. I wasn’t even fully aware of it, but I noticed it when I realized time was my obsession. “What time is it?” and “how much longer will I be here?” Sure signs of danger. Everyone and everything was a problem and I played the victim to all the haphazard incidents and wrongdoings.
When somebody/everybody else is always the problem, maybe the problem is really you.
This was originally posted on January 28, 2011. Lately, it’s been calling out to me. I needed it and wanted to share it again.
We’re all looking for pure bliss and resounding ecstasy. We want to drop our worries and feel alive, feel connected to the magic of this world. All too often, though, this desire results in the abuse of alcohol, drugs and other legal or illegal substances. In using or abusing these substances, the user often does more harm than good.
But alcohol and drugs are completely unnecessary and actually quite costly to both your body and your wallet. There’s another way.
It’s natural. It’s safe. It’s free. It’s legal and always available to you.
This is the second #notetoself letter I sent during my trip, sent on February 13, 2012.
Buenas! I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I’m coasting on the joy of so many blessings in the past week, but also a bit weighed down by the reality of the lessons I’m still learning from my bag being stolen a little over a week ago in Costa Rica.
I’m now in Granada, Nicaragua, which on the surface is a quaint and charming colonial city with humongous houses and beautiful, colorful architecture. With the feel of a small town, the pace is comfortably slow and inviting. I can walk at 2 miles per hour here and not feel hurried. It’s a nice change of pace from Brooklyn and Manhattan.
But travel not even a mile outside the city center and experience the stark oppositional reality that this is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Tiny, wooden shacks with tin roofs. Dirt roads. Normalized poverty. I’m accustomed to seeing…more. The standard of living in Nicaragua is lower and visitors like me are thought to be wealthy simply because we can travel, regardless of how budget that travel is or what was sacrificed to do so. Here, I’m faced with how much I have and how much I’m accustomed to having.
On Friday, what I presume to be the purpose of my bag being stolen hit me. Hard. Release your attachments.
known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way
out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity,
and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness,
and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
- Elizabeth Kubler Ross
If you think of yourself in terms of a painting, what do you see?
Is the picture one you think worth painting?
You create yourself in the image you hold in your mind.”
- Thomas Dreier
For years, I’ve been meaning to set aside the time to create a cohesive vision of how I’d like my life to look. Every area: health and fitness, career, finances, emotional life, spiritual life, social life, romantic life, etc. Occasionally, I’ll remind myself that fuzzy targets don’t get hit and when it comes to understanding exactly what I want, there’s often quite a bit of fuzziness.
At the end of the month, I’ll be embarking upon one of the scariest and simultaneously most exciting adventures of my life: I’m taking off to Central America for two and half months. The why is multifold. The timing is just perfect. It’s winter and the only way I enjoy winter is with some sun and warmth; wearing socks indoors and sleeping with hoodies and heating pads isn’t my thing. Additionally, I’m not sure when else all the factors in my life will align perfectly to create another opportunity like this one.
Before I take this journey, I’ve begun to start critically examining my life. There are gaps that need to be closed and the first step is identifying where I am and where I’d like to go. The quote above is helping me maintain my motivation for actually completing this process. It’s my wish that it’s of assistance to you as well.