“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”
—David Whyte, excerpt from “Sweet Darkness”
In an earlier career as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands, David Whyte tells us that he returned to poetry because the scientific language was not precise enough to describe his experiences. Instead of objective language, he describes the subjective experience of an interior life in “the conversational nature of reality.”
For me, poetry is a paradox of language. It captures something that is often beyond words, and yet it uses words to get to there.
“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet / confinement of your aloneness…”
It is sweet darkness and the moments of aloneness that bring us into deep belonging. Aloneness describes a contentment with the experience of being alone, and is strikingly different from loneliness. Aloneness describes a rich contemplative experience of our own inner lives.
“… to learn …”
The lessons of life come to us in the contemplative times. Between the activity of doing and the busy-ness of life, there are the times of stillness and just being. Aloneness teaches us the richness of belonging. Belonging describes the sense of connection to all things. I think of a the breathtaking natural vista of the Grand Canyon; I am at once alone in my experience and connected to nature.
“… anything or anyone / that does not bring you alive …”
Then there are the times of being in the flow, where the richness of being and doing meet. I imagine myself on the Rio Grande within the Grand Canyon itself, actively moving through life and experiencing the splendor.
These are the moments that bring us alive. Between those moments of aliveness, there is another territory. Anything or anyone that brings you there is …
“… is too small for you.”
How do I let go of those things or people that are “too small for me”? What is that feeling of aliveness? What are things or people that bring me alive? And how do I navigate the river of life to have more aliveness? And still more? And even more? And yet still more …
Listen to “Sweet Darkness” read by David Whyte
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