Provision #304: Love Life

Laser Provision

After years of memorizing other people’s poems, and with a little prodding from one of my LifeTrek Coaching colleagues, this Provision shares two of my own, newborn poems. They celebrate the power of life over death and they remind us of what undergirds both health and wealth: the love of life itself.

LifeTrek Provision

A few weeks ago I had a most unusual, intriguing, and fruitful experience. I woke up with one of David Whyte’s poems on my lips. I have shared this poem before with you, the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. It’s titled “What To Remember On Waking,” and it has become an important part of my life. Having memorized the poem, it’s easy to recite it to myself at will. I especially like to call it to mind before I go to sleep at night. Doing so puts me in a better frame of mind when I wake up.

The poem, you may remember, encourages us to see and use the morning • the time after we first wake up • as a special time to connect with the gift and essence of life. “There is a small opening into the new day,” David observes, “which closes the moment you begin your plans.” Elsewhere, David refers to our “looking through the slanting light of the morning window toward the mountain presence of everything that can be.”

This image has led me to play a game with myself called, “How long can I keep the window open?” How long can I go without checking email, reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, reading a book, turning on the television, or doing anything else that confronts me with external information. David writes that waking up amounts to our being invited back to life “from another and greater night than the one from which we have just emerged.” By paying attention to what’s going on inside us, fresh from the creative work of the night, we tap into the source of life itself.

You can imagine my delight, then, when I recently found myself lying in bed with those words on the tip of my tongue. I had no trouble keeping the window open that beautiful spring morning! It even prompted me to write a poem of my own.

by Bob Tschannen-Moran • 2003

The world comes back to life
Tiny buds burst into flower
Drab and barren branches
Dance to a symphony of becoming
Like a painter’s palette
We see the colors laid out
And smell their intoxicating aromas

This too shall pass

But for now
There is hope
In a world that knows too much fear

But for now
There is faith
In a world that knows too much despair

But for now
There is love
In a world that knows too much hate

But for now
We dance to this symphony of becoming
We twirl and laugh
We trust and believe
As though nothing could ever silence the music

But for now
We are pleased to dwell
On planet earth
And do call ourselves

Another poem came to me a week later, while I was out on a 22-mile run • my last long run before I join one of my clients in completing the Pittsburgh, PA marathon on May 4, 2003. This poem reflects the impact of the war in Iraq; it also reflects the more fundamental notion that new life can come from old death, as indeed it always has.

by Bob Tschannen-Moran • 2003

There’s talk of liberation in the air
From the highest seats of power
To the lowest trenches of despair
Everywhere you turn
There’s talk of liberation in the air

Strange images command our attention
Little girls giving flowers to soldiers
And palm branches waving in the air
While others outfit themselves with bombs
In final, desperate acts of despair

We can only hope, if we dare
To think that somehow this tangled up world
With ancient rivalries provoking prime-time coverage
Will again find ways to smile in repair
As though it were sending up a transcendent signal flare

Beseeching all the heavens to declare
Those ancient visions of peace
Where lions and lambs, wolves and sheep, rest
Everywhere content in the knowledge of One
Whose talk of liberation has always filled the air

I share these poems with you today for two reasons. First, in many Christian traditions today is Easter Sunday, when people celebrate the miracle of resurrection, which these poems both reflect and explore. In the wake of recent events, including the no-less deadly and horrific reality of modern, precision-guided warfare, it is important to remember that faith, hope, and love have always had the last and final word over humanity’s seemingly incurable inhumanities.

Second, these poems remind us of what undergirds both health and wealth. It’s not enough to know what to do. We also have to do it. When it comes to health, we have to do things with nutrition, exercise, rest, and relaxation. When it comes to wealth, we have to do things with income, spending, debt, and investments. Most of us know these things. We know what to do. But we oftentimes fail to put what we know into practice.

Why is that? For many people, it’s a matter of discouragement. They have tried things, which did not work out. So they give up. They come to believe that failure is inevitable and change is impossible. “I’ve tried everything,” they report, “and it’s no use. I just can’t do it.” They may want to lose weight, quit smoking, or save money. But they’ve concluded that it’s beyond their reach.

For other people, it’s a matter of seduction. They have been overwhelmed by the messages and structures of a society which makes it hard to be healthy and wealthy. The advertising budgets and price structures for fast foods and consumer goods, both large and small, dwarf the budgets of those educational initiatives which promote and describe a better way. It’s unfortunately cheaper and easier to eat unhealthy than to eat healthy. What kind of world is that?

It’s a world that requires invigorated people who understand the principles of well being and well doing. First and foremost, it takes a belief in our ability to get the job done. Like the “Little Engine That Could,” in the children’s story, we too must marinate our body, mind, and spirit with the simple thought: “I think I can, I think I can, I think can.” Until you think you can, you can’t. These poems can help overcome the inertia of can’t-be and can’t-do thinking.

It’s also a world that requires engaged people who share the principles of well being and well doing. No one becomes healthy and wealthy, all by themselves. We stand on the shoulders and depend on the support of others. Although there’s no way to hide entirely from the world’s seductions, it’s certainly possible to design and connect with physical and relational environments which refresh our spirits, awaken our senses, and quicken our potential. These poems can help create the context of can-be and can-do living.

I hope you find reading them to be as much of a blessing as I found writing them. They have the power to move us forward on the trek to health, wealth, and wisdom.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.

Thanks for the good work. Although I must confess I still am not persuaded that the endeavor is worthy of your skill. It still seems to me that for some (as yet undiscerned by me) reason you are trying to redefine wealth by confusing it with other perfectly adequate words. Occasionally you even seem to recognize this yourself, e.g., when you write “Seek contentment and wealth may follow. Seek wealth and contentment may elude your grasp.” I love your reminder of Franklin’s journal entries at the beginning and end of each day. But again, I wonder, why refer to this as wealth rather than virtue?

I would like you to know that I really enjoy your lessons and, to most part, I share your view of life. I am a great believer that part of why we are here on this earth is to fulfill our purpose and to reach to the highest levels of our potential, through which we will know true fulfillment. I commend you for sharing this with the rest of the world, if there’s is anything that the world needs right now is a strong diversion to their inner persons, to contribute to the world uniqueness that none other is capable of.

It has always been true that those who have suffered or know poverty are the most generous. My ex-girlfriend was a waitress and always got stiffed by those of means, unless someone was watching, whereas, those who had been there and knew how hard the work was, were more generous with their tips. . . interesting. 

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran
LifeTrek Coaching International
121 Will Scarlet Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043

Telephone: 757-345-3452
Fax: 772-382-3258

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