17 November 2011

Brave Endeavors

My friend, Ruth, over at Synch-ro-ni-zing wrote a thought provoking post about living in the face of death, despair and fear. In her wise way she turned to poetry, bits of poems, she called a "found poem" to provide an important juxtaposition.
After reading it, the following quotes that I've collected because they spoke to me came together in a whole new way. They illuminate our work as writers and offer encouragement for this brave endeavor.

I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead. 
- Tom Stoppard

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
~Frederick Douglass

So don't be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do. You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, since you don't know what work they are accomplishing within you? 

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these-to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes


  1. What a lovely, thought-provoking post -- your combination is very powerful. It is so important to remember that in order to write well one must be incredibly brave. I love the photograph, too. Alas, for myself, I do not think I am brave enough...

  2. Rilke's words about not wanting to experience pain and depression because of not knowing what work it does inside me -- those words really resonated, since I've been thinking about mood swings lately. Beautiful quotes, thoughtful. Thank you...

  3. Beautiful. It is all one long lesson, isn't it? This life....

  4. TB, I've saved these quotes for a while now to shore me up when I need it. I took the photo in Venice and loved those windows in that old paint color. It's my favorite photo from that trip.

    DJan, We fight that kind of work being done inside us as it's happening (of course) and only know its value later when it matures us in essential ways.

    Lauren, Yep. Good for us for showing up, paying attention and learning.

  5. Beautiful! What thoughtful post!

  6. Rosaria, Thanks, I thought of you with Rilke's quote.

  7. For years I knew how to write but never thought I had anything to say. Then I had something to say but didn't write. Finally I'm putting them together from time to time, grateful for both.

  8. Hmm, that Rilke quote is very thought-provoking. Apparently a lot of work is being done with me right now! Thanks for this.

  9. This truly was a beautiful post that cause one to think deeply.

    Rilke's quote is true. We are changed by the things we cannot change.

  10. Excellent and inspiring quotes that you chose. I find the words of poets and philosophers very comforting. I also find prayer to be of great comfort in times of stress and despair. It is also a form of meditation.

    I recognized that your photo was taken in Venice immediately! If only those walls and windows could talk :)

  11. Linda, And now you've written a book. Amazing, isn't it?

    Nancy, We know in our hearts it's true when we read it. Wishing you strength.

    Sally, I thought of you (and Rosaria and DJan) with Rilke but how you respond to let it work on you is to your credit.

    Sunny, I'm glad.

    Pat, It's all good if it brings us back to center. Venice was a treasure.

  12. Your positioning of these quotes is quite perfect. “. . . the right ones in order . . .” indeed. They are all pungent and inspiring, especially the Rilke and the last which I have not read before. What Estes says is powerful: not only to show compassion in face of the stormy world, to oneself and others, but to show your soul (“soul on deck” is a wonderful phrase and image), and let the sparks fly. I love it! Thank you for responding to my post this way.

    The photo shows the soul of Venice!

  13. Ruth, When I had the quotes for my inspiration they were in a different order but, when I read your found poem, I reordered them to flow together. I like the quote from Estes for just the reason you mentioned. I picture us on deck baring our souls in great numbers until we provide the tipping point for change.

  14. And the photo captures the soul of Venice...

  15. Jinsky, My absolute favorite photo (of hundreds!).

  16. i hold these quotes to me like balm. actually, i hold poetry to me like balm. and sometimes like flame:)


  17. erin, It can be both, can't it? We need both.


Let's chat.