“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is whole heartedness.”
Prescriptive words of kind direction given to David Whyte at a juncture in his life from his friend and mentor Brother David.
The poem Brother David dispenses as potent medicine for this diagnosis is Rilke’s The Swan. He relates the awkward way the swan walks on land to the clumsy way life is when we are not in our “elemental waters” — our place of knowing the life we want for ourself. And as we let go of the ground and slip into the water, the life we are seeking welcomes us and flows around us.
For many years, and still often in many moments, I wonder if I’m “on purpose”. If I am living the life I am meant to embody. I realized how important this is to me when I was at a party and the conversation turned to your greatest fear. As we went around the room, I heard others speak of their fears — tragic accidents, battles for survival — my greatest fear?! Not living up to my potential. Pretty open ended, eh? How does one fully live a purpose-filled life AND meet the obligations, deadlines, considerations and timelines for “success”. It can be exhausting. And the antidote rings true for me. It is not to rest. It is to find the place where I come alive. To open my heart and let its gps lead me to the place where I “have arrived”.
Serendipitously, I live on Oldham Pond and have the great fortune to see a swan or two or sometimes even a small swan convention out on the horizon. And often when I’m feeling uncertain, a bit tangled in the what-to-do-and-where-to-go-or-stay-and-how-to….whatever, I glance out and….Hello Swan! Stunningly majestic. “On Pond” — as in “on task”. Appearing quite certain in their “swanliness”. Their purpose-fullness. Gracefully moving and at the same time almost still and allowing what is to be. Living and breathing in their elemental waters. Ahhhhh swimming in possibility. I breathe. I center. I find the authentic truth in me. I ask what needs to be done. And I set myself into the waters, head held high and I sail.
Sail along with me today.
Find your inner swan The Poet’s Way —
what’s asking to be alive, what skill, what talent, what longing to be or do
open yourself, swim in possibility, without obligation to time or money, where will your gifts bring smiles, joy, connection
give it away, offer it, be it, allow it to shine — trust and put it out there — we all need your light, your swanliness
This magnificent swan photo is from the immensely talented and my dear Air Dragon sister, Cathy Tobias. You may enjoy Cathy’s beautiful swan-life and talents on her Facebook Page Life is Short, Photography.
Come share your aliveness in The Poet’s Way Community.
I am pleased to be carried further and further on.
This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.
And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvellously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.
– Rilke translated by Robert Bly