To know the Earth on a first-name basis
You must know the meaning of river stones first.
Find a place that calls to you and there
Lie face down in the grass until you feel
Each plant alive with the mystery of beginnings.
Move in a circle until you discover an insect
Crawling with knowledge in its heart.
Examine a newborn leaf and find a map of a universe
So vast that only Eagles understand.
Observe the journey of an ant and imitate its path
Of persistence in a world of bigger things.
Borrow a cloud and drift high above the Earth,
Looking down at the smallness of your life.
The journey begins on a path made of your old mistakes.
The journey continues when you call the Earth by name.
The absence of fear in the face of unknowing. I often think back on the the little girl that I used to be. I remember the things that she prayed for–like strength, talent, beauty, wisdom, grace. Sometimes it hits me, suddenly, the fact that she is me, that I am her, that I am the woman that I prayed to become.
I think back on every struggle that I’ve come through, the hardest times. The times when I thought, “This is it. I can’t go on from here.” But I always did. I always went on, and I always will.
In his writings, Borges said “There is no other virtue than being brave.” Paulo Coelho says that, “Braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.”
I think that’s what life is, really. It’s a series of challenges. It’s about being afraid, but going on despite the fear. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other. It’s about taking steps, moving, and not always *despite* the fear, but sometimes *because* of it. It’s about being propelled and compelled and moving, always, in the direction of hope. It’s about little things, small miracles, tiny victories. It’s about the simplest kindnesses and the biggest knowing that somehow we are, each of us, a little spoke in the grand wheel of time. The precious moments of our lives are contributing to the enormous & magical scheme of things.
Sometimes I like to remind myself of just how far I’ve come. Every day is a gift, a new chance to start again, to live like it really matters, to be my best self. It’s about not giving up even when everything seems to be stacked against me. It’s about counting my multitude of blessings over & over & over.
“I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, but never the hurricane.” —Jeffery McDaniel
“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast, a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise… you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.” —Edward Abbey
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ theory is one of the most popular scientific theories out there. Most everyone who has watched the Discovery channel and/or has an education is familiar with it. However, there is also a common misconception about this theory. Most people equate it with strength. People think that the phrase ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and the phrase ‘Only the Strong Survive’ are inherently connected. They are not. These two concepts are different.
Survival of the fittest does not have to do with strength. The fittest creature is not necessarily the strongest creature. Rather, it is the creature most fit (or suited to) a particular environment.
For example, if you placed a Grizzly Bear and a Great White Shark in the warm waters of the Pacific, there is a good chance that the shark would have a better chance of survival, right? However, if you took the bear and the shark and placed them on a frozen tundra in Alaska, there is a good chance that the bear would have a better chance of survival, right? Right!
This is an extreme example, but it illustrates how a creature’s suitability or “fitness” for a given environment will highly influence the animal’s fitness for survival.
Animals can not control their ability to adapt to a given environment. If they have gills, they can survive in water. If not—they drown. If they have thick fur—they can survive in the cold, if not—they freeze. It’s that simple. They are what they are. To change things, it takes thousands of years of evolution.
WE—HUMAN BEINGS—ON THE OTHER HAND, are highly adaptable creatures. We have a gift among gifts. We can—if we so choose—be FLEXIBLE. For thousands of years we have been able to survive and dominate in climates that are unnatural to us. We learned to harness the power of fire. We learned to hunt animals and use their skins as clothing. We can survive in the coldest of climates with relative ease. Later, technology gave us masks and oxygen tanks so that we could travel hundreds of miles below the earth’s surface and into the sea. We built aeroplanes and spaceships that allow us to fly through the heavens without so much as a single feather.
With flexibility we have become the ultimate fittest. We are the most fit for every environment. We are the ultimate animal. Yet…
Somehow we manage to lose track of our strength, our wisdom, our greatness. We allow other people or challenges to overcome us. Instead of harnessing the exquisite uniqueness of human adaptability, we cower in fear. We allow fear to rule us. We crush the weak to make our own weak souls feel powerful. We stifle the flames of our personal power and goodness. We live in darkness.
But there is another way. There is the way of flexibility, the way of harnessing the supreme power of our ultimate fitness. It is more than surviving—it is the way of flexibility.
Recently my own life path has been taking sharp twists and turns in unexpected directions. Unforeseen circumstances have been throwing themselves at my feet. Like anybody, I’ve been uncertain at times. Still, throughout, I knew in my heart that I had two choices. I could live in fear or I could bend, like a beautiful contortionist, like a palm tree in hurricane winds.
And so, I chose flexibility. I am bending with the tides even as they pull me in so many directions. This is the way of light, the choice of power. Life is a series of changes. Everything changes, we get comfortable, and then everything changes again.
When I was younger I thought that the more things change the more they stay the same. But as I get older, I believe more that the only constant in life is change.
We each have to make a decision. We can cling to what we know, rigidly and in fear. Or, we can practice flexibility. We can adapt to the waves of life as they wash over us—becoming the fittest, becoming the one that survives.