verb [ trans. ]
carve (wood) into an object by repeatedly cutting small slices from it.• carve (an object) from wood in this way.• (whittle something away/down) reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps
I've started this post several times. The words 'dither' and 'smoosh' and the old nursery rhyme 'See saw, Marjory Daw' keep popping up, but I've just looked up the dictionary definition for 'whittle' and it's this word - this activity - that comes closest to describing the process I'm in.
Whittling. In an earlier version of this entry, I talked about whittling a new set of paddles; there's still some resonance in that; something rhythmic and intentional about it.
We wake each morning with no idea how the day will unfold; what will the hours offer? What - or who - might life nudge us towards, and why? What - or who - will we be invited to engage with, resist? What will we set aside, create, rebuild or undo? And how often do we stand/sit/lay down in this place that's somewhere between quiet calm and head-back, throat-open holler? We seem to be living an accelerated 'mixed-bag reality' that - for all its gifts and challenges - we can trust as being ultimately 'on our side'; on the side of good and of forward movement; of alignment, awakening, learning, refinement. The chaffing and sandpapering sure can sting though - never more than when someone we love finds themselves on the receiving end of a sudden sharp shock to their system?
A few weeks ago, my friend Nan (who journeyed from Cape Town to Dunedin last September) sent me David Whyte's poem Sweet Darkness. I'd intended posting it here today but after visiting Whyte's website realized I'd need to have his permission to post that poem here, and - well, the process could have taken days, weeks or months. So, instead of the poem, I'm posting the link to his website. I spent quite some time there, exploring, exploring. Click here for Yorkshire-born David's eloquent thoughts on 'Poetry, Work and Vocation' and on 'Conversational Leadership.' I also have David to thank for last night's visit to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington (T. Clear, you and Melinda will love this site; Marylinn, too. And Susan and Melissa. . . well, I'm sure you all will. . . ! There are glass bridges and seas to cross, water forests to walk. . . ).
Also whilst wandering the far reaches of the blogosphere late last night, I came across this beautifully expressed piece by David in the Huffington Post - "The Poetic Narrative Of Our Times.".
Here's an excerpt. . .
". . . It might be liberating to think of human life as informed by losses and disappearances as much as by gifted appearances, allowing a more present participation and witness to the difficulty of living. What is real can never be fully taken away; its essence always remains. It might set us a little freer to believe that there is no path in life - in the low valley, in the shelter of Keane's comfortable bar, snug by a turf fire or abroad in the mountain night, that does not lead to some form of heartbreak when the outer narrative disappears and then reappears in a different form. If we are sincere, every good marriage or relationship will break our hearts in order to enlarge our understanding of our self and that strange other with whom we have promised ourselves to the future. Being a good parent will necessarily break our hearts as we watch a child grow and eventually choose their own way, even through many of the same heartbreaks we have traversed. Following a vocation or an art form through decades of practice and understanding will break the idealistic heart that began the journey and replace it, if we sidestep the temptations of bitterness and self-pity, with something more malleable, compassionate and generous than the metaphysical organ with which we began the journey. We learn, grow and become compassionate and generous as much through exile as homecoming; as much through loss as gain, as much through giving things away as in receiving what we believe to be our due. . . "
You can read the full article here - and, too, Mameen, Whyte's life-affirming poem, that begins