Friday, March 24, 2023


“‘Sometimes’: Poet and Philosopher David Whyte’s
Stunning Meditation on Walking into the Questions of Our Becoming”
by Maria Popova

“The role of the artist, James Baldwin believed, is “to make you realize the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are.” This, too, is the role of the forest, it occurs to me as I walk the ferned, mossed woods daily to lose my self and find myself between the trees; to “live the questions,” in Rilke’s lovely phrase – to let the rustling of the leaves beckon forth the stirrings and murmurings on the edge of the psyche, which we so often brush away in order to go on being the smaller version of ourselves we have grown accustomed to being out of the unfaced fear that the grandeur of life, the grandeur of our own untrammeled nature, might require of us more than we are ready to give.

Those disquieting, transformative stirrings are what the poet and philosopher David Whyte explores with surefooted subtlety in his poem “Sometimes,” found in his altogether life-enlarging collection “Everything Is Waiting for You” (public library) and read here by the poet himself as part of a wonderful short course of poem-driven practices for neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris’s “Waking Up” meditation toolkit (which I can’t recommend enough and which operates under an inspired, honorable model of granting free subscriptions to those who need this invaluable mental health aid but don’t have the means).


if you move carefully
through the forest,
breathing like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
you come to a place whose only task
is to trouble you with tiny
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place,
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and to stop what you
are becoming while you do it,
questions that can make or unmake a life,
questions that have patiently waited for you,
questions that have no right to go away.”

- David Whyte

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