The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Saturday, 9 December 2017
David Whyte's 'Consolations'
What Whyte does is take an everyday word, usually related to 'the human condition', for a walk.
The essay is a form I really like. I have just completed another of my own towards a book of essays I've been writing on our relationship to the other-than-human; this one was a requirement of my residency for the National Trust, and the book will be completed next year, I hope.
There are many essay writers I admire. John Berger is a big favourite, and there are many within the field of 'nature writing' and ecopsychology, my own passions.
Right now, I'm thinking of Whyte's 2015 book as it is going to make a good Christmas present for a family member.
Today – as you can see! – I'm having a break from the computer – so to whet your appetite and also be brief here are two small quotes from Consolations:
'Alone': 'To be alone for any length of time is to shed an outer skin. The body is inhabited in a different way when we are alone than when we are with others. Alone, we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement.'
(Although I really like this, I think that final sentence would be as accurate and true if reversed, as well.)
'Friendship': 'The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self; the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.'
Which is a cue to say to you, my readers, how much I appreciate and am grateful to each of you for accompanying and witnessing me here. Whether you were already a friend when you first visited this blog, have become one since, whether I have met you in person or not, whether you are a frequent or occasional visitor, the fact that each of you gives attention is irreplaceable. Obviously, without you there would be no blog. Thank you.
CONSOLATIONS The solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words David Whyte (Many Rivers Press, 2015)
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