Wild & Precious Life

a collection of beautiful words…..

Alice Walker

To show people how beautiful they are, you have to show them how ugly they’ve been acting.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

Father by Carlos Andrés Gómez

“I.

In the basement of the crack house     I used to visit
as an outreach worker              on 121st street in Harlem,
I was convinced           He            refused
to travel north of 96th.             I wrote a letter
to Joanna on her mission         in Taiwan, detailed
each irrefutable            piece of evidence         proving
we are all,                                 in fact,                          alone.
Told her about             the nine-year-old orphan
forced              to sell               her body
for three years                          before ending up         just off
Times Square,              discarded         in a dumpster.
I told her about                        the eldest son
who answered              a burglar’s call              and was shot,
paralyzed         from the waist down.               I asked her
about drought              and famine                   and endless
civil wars—what lessons          does His book
refuse?

“II.

When her heart rate     dropped by half                 in less
than a minute,              the population             of our cramped
hospital room              tripling             in a handful of seconds,
I grasped for                anything           that would keep me
upright.            At first,            the wall:           cool and steady,
demanding my body        ascend beyond         what seemed
possible.                Then,                      nothing,
no one.            I stood             in the waiting room
of the O.R.                  waiting             to be called in,
to find out if                          my child                 had survived.
I spent each second                 trying to pull tiny shoe-coverings
over my too-large feet.             I confessed      every wrong
of my life               to an empty, over-lit room             of steel
and sterile instruments             that all        reflected back
distorted                      versions of myself.       I fumbled
for any prayer              I could remember, hoping
that I had all along been           mistaken          about the hollow
blackness         of the infinite sky.                    I never wanted
so badly                       to have been wrong
about anything             in my life—
and then              a   disembodied
voice            called out,           seemingly only to me—
a tiny growl         at first                          that blossomed
into a wail dwarfing     any thought     my mind
could       possibly          hold,                  any faith
I’d ever been                so foolish            to claim.”

William Shakespeare

Give sorrow words…

Georgia O’keeffe

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

One Tree by Philip Metres

They wanted to tear down the tulip tree, our neighbors, last year. It throws a shadow over their vegetable patch, the only tree in our backyard. We said no. Now they’ve hired someone to chainsaw an arm—the crux on our side of the fence—and my wife, in tousled hair and morning sweat, marches to stop the carnage, mid-limb. It reminds her of her childhood home, a shady place to hide. She recites her litany of no, returns. Minutes later, the neighbors emerge. The worker points to our unblinded window. I want to say, it’s not me, slide out of view behind a wall of cupboards, ominous breakfast table, steam of tea, our two young daughters now alone. I want no trouble. Must I fight for my wife’s desire for yellow blooms when my neighbors’ tomatoes will stunt and blight in shade? Always the same story: two people, one tree, not enough land or light or love. Like the baby brought to Solomon, someone must give. Dear neighbor, it’s not me. Bloom-shadowed, light-deprived, they lower the chainsaw again.

Excerpt from the Waves by Virginia Woolf

Thus I visited each of my friends in turn, trying, with fumbling fingers, to prise open their locked caskets. I went from one to the other holding my sorrow—no, not my sorrow but the incomprehensible nature of this our life—for their inspection. Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends, I to my own heart, I to seek among phrases and fragments something unbroken…

Wonder Woman by Ada Limón

“Standing at the swell of the muddy Mississippi

after the urgent care doctor had just said, Well,

sometimes shit happens, I fell fast and hard

for New Orleans all over again. Pain pills swirling

in the purse along with a spell for later. It’s taken

a while for me to admit, I am in a raging battle

with my body, a spinal column thirty-five degrees

bent, vertigo that comes and goes like a DC Comics

villain nobody can kill. Invisible pain is both

a blessing and a curse. You always look so happy,

said a stranger once as I shifted to my good side

grinning. But that day, alone on the riverbank,

brass blaring from the Steamboat Natchez,

out of the corner of my eye, I saw a girl, maybe half my age,

dressed, for no apparent reason, as Wonder Woman.

She strutted by in all her strength and glory, invincible,

eternal, and when I stood to clap (because who wouldn’t have),

she bowed and posed like she knew I needed a myth—

a woman, by a river, indestructible.”

Essay by Jeannette Encinias

Listening is an act of love. An art form. A skill that you can cultivate and practice.

Listening is a gift of silence, of learning, of putting to bed your hungry words so that you can scoop up the voice of another person and hold it in the space between your life and theirs.

What an intimacy this can be. Your ears astute, a person’s story heard, a thread to bind you in a window of time.

Have you felt that before? I have. It’s divine.

Our world is noisy. It’s getting noisier by the day. Peace and quiet often seem out of reach. People feel unheard, left out, alone. The shouting is getting louder. The fences are growing taller. We have created a world where only the voices we are comfortable hearing can be heard and we grow narrow by this apathy. We dismiss each other. We turn our backs. We create an echo chamber that cages us all.

Listening well is a way to untether yourself from this madness. A way to move toward love and a more expansive understanding. A way to grow up and grow wise.

Listening is not passive. It requires your breath and your presence. You must call on your patience and your strength. Listening asks more from you than talking ever will.

Talking is easy and we know it.

But can you be curious and open without shutting the doors of your mind too quickly? Can you sense the fear that lives inside of us all? The love and the longing as well? Can you breathe into the beating heart and expanding lungs? Can you remember that we all have blood and bones and one day none of that at all?

Can you skip a beat? Can you skip two?

There are times to make your voice heard. There are years when your story must be told and when your silence is not a gift. Shout it then. Write it. Paint it. Sing it. Let no one and nothing stop you. And then there are times to prop up those ears and lift your chin. Offer up your beautiful attention.

Just listen.

As we move into the rest of this truly breathtaking year and into the rest of our lives, can you study the art of listening? Can you shake up the talking vs. listening ratio? Can you let this listening strengthen you and not get the best of you? Can you become more than you ever were before?

These are questions I ask myself and so here I offer them to you.