Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive….

David Whyte is a modern poet whose voice is as clear and cloudless as the sky above Crater Lake. He is of English/Irish heritage, has a background in marine zoology, and uses poetry to assist people in affecting change in their personal and work lives. He calls all of us out of our routine slumber and directs our gaze to places we may fear or wish to avoid. David asks us to risk being authentic in an increasing virtual world. “Sweet Darkness” is a poem that asks the reader to enter the particular place of darkness that is calling to you now.

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

You see the world through your own particular set of eyes and your own particualr set of experiences. No one else in creation sees the world exactly as you do. Your vision is unique. But when something unexpected bumps up against us in life, then our vision is temporarily lost. We feel alone and engulfed by the surging energy of life. We cannot be found, just as we can no longer see.
Turn to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.The dark will be your womb
tonight.The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
Don’t fight the darkness, the poet seems to be whispering. Just as our eyes grow accustomed to a dark place, so the dark place will make a home for us, will see our shadow self. No matter what our particular set of circumstances and our particular reasons for being dropped into darkness, we are recognized and loved. Think of the poet’s metaphor used to describe this kind of night: your womb. A womb is a place of complete safety, a place where an innocent life can grow and be nurtured. A place to wait until you are ready to emerge, whole at last. A place of incubation, peace and rest.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Here the poet tells us there is only one thing to know right now: you are meant to be free, to take your own particular place in the grand scheme of life. Have you been going through some life-changing event? Large or small, scale does not matter here. All that matters is that you realize your place in the grand design and take that place. Maybe you are called on to leave a job that is choking you. Maybe a relationship needs to shift or even to end. Maybe there is a geographical change to make or a dream that you feel has always had your name on it. Whatever that world is, it is time to take your place. Know that others have done it before, the poet seems to be saying. You can do this. Just embrace the one world that is yours for the taking, no matter how small or how grand. The time is now and everthing is telling you that.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learnanything or anyone
that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

The darkness that has enveloped you has provided a place of safety and shelter to incubate your emerging self, to nourish new growth, or to give sustenance to your will. What is it in your life that has been too small for you? That has not allowed you to grow? The other question concerns a person. Who is it in your life that has stifled you? Who has placed you in a box that you have outgrown?

Life is constantly calling us forward to take our place and to be fully alive. What is that one thing in your life that is now too small for you? Who is that person you have outgrown? Maybe it is a role you have played that no longer suits you. Maybe you need to stand alone. Maybe it’s time to become one with a partner. You hold the answer, the poet tells us. Just go into the darkness until you can hear the small voice inside and then follow its becokoning, loving hand.
Poem “Sweet Darkness from The House of Belonging, Many Rivers Press, 1998.

One thought on “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive….

  1. redosue May 2, 2015 / 8:50 am

    I love this. I never thought of darkness as a place that could nourish, “…a place of incubation and rest.” You shifted my ideas today. How cool.

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