Here’s another poem by Edgar A. Guest to remind us about our lives. Yes, it’s important to know who we are and to stay true to who we are, but it’s also very important to LIVE life–not to be put on a shelf and wait until everything’s perfect.
Get out there and live your life!
Life is a gift to be used every day, Not to be smothered and hidden away; It isn’t a thing to be stored in the chest Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best; It isn’t a joy to be sipped now and then And promptly put back in a dark place again.
Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of And one that the humblest may well make the most of. Get out and live it each hour of the day, Wear it and use it as much as you may; Don’t keep it in niches and corners and grooves, You’ll find that in service its beauty improves.
Usually, it isn’t the big challenges or the or the heartbreaking setbacks that stop us in our tracks. Oftentimes it’s the small simple things that stop us. There’s a 4-letter that stops us even before we realize what’s happened. It’s the word ‘can’t’.
Tell me what you think of the following poem about the damage the word ‘can’t’ does in our lives. The poem also gives us the antidote to the word ‘can’t’.
Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken; Doing more harm here than slander and lies; On it is many a strong spirit broken, And with it many a good purpose dies. It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning And robs us of courage we need through the day: It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.
Can’t is the father of feeble endeavor, The parent of terror and half-hearted work; It weakens the efforts of artisans clever, And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk. It poisons the soul of the man with a vision, It stifles in infancy many a plan; It greets honest toiling with open derision And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.
Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing; To utter it should be a symbol of shame; Ambition and courage it daily is crushing; It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim. Despise it with all of your hatred of error; Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain; Arm against it as a creature of terror, And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.
Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition, An enemy ambushed to shatter your will; Its prey is forever the man with a mission And bows but to courage and patience and skill. Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying, For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man; Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying And answer this demon by saying: “I can.”
We’re healthiest when we view our sense of self as an ongoing journey–something that unfolds as we step out of our comfort zones and have new experiences. Who we see ourselves as isn’t cast in concrete, never to change. Of course there may be attributes or characteristics that we choose to keep the same, such as deciding that we’ll always have blond or auburn hair, but most other things about ourselves will change to a degree.
This is a good thing!
This is what enriches our lives and it also gives us the flexibility to successfully weather the challenges that Life throws our way.
Add this thought–keeping our senses of self fluid–into the mix as you’re thinking this week about who you are.
In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, please be guided by his thoughts:
There comes a time when silence is betrayal…. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
I have decided to stick to love…. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he sands at times of challenge and controversy.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less apt to hate our enemies.
These quotes remind us that in order to be fully who we are, we must include honor, integrity, and doing the right thing. This doesn’t mean we have to take to the streets carrying placards and shouting slogans. It does mean, though, that we acknowledge all others as fellow travelers and treat them gently, giving them the benefit of the doubt. In this small, quiet way, we can stop silence, derail hate, and turn injustice into loving-kindness.
The very first thing, though, is to start with silence. It’s in going within and connecting with your True Self that you will know the Still Small Voice as well as the whisperings of your heart and the urgings of your soul.
Take time today for silence. You don’t need special clothing or equipment, you don’t need to sit/stand/lie in a special position, you don’t have to travel to any special place. You can be silent exactly where you are right at this moment.
Having said that, though, you’ll have a better session of silence if you can be in a place where you’re comfortable, that offers some quiet, and where you can be undisturbed for 15 to 20 minutes.
This week’s theme is “Who Am I?” In your silence, contemplate this. Let the question roll gently in your mind. Let the thoughts drift by WITHOUT judgment. You can note facts about yourself such as your height, gender, nationality, and the like. You can note characteristics about yourself, for example that you’re cheerful, generous and kind. You can also note things you are good at, and things about yourself that you’re proud of.
Here are a few quotes to aid you in your contemplation:
You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.~as quoted from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.~Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson
God tries to first create a joyous yes inside of you, far more than any kind of no . . . Just saying no is resentful dieting, whereas finding your deeper yes, and eating from that table, is always a spiritual banquet.― Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self
Please keep handy this week the thoughts and insights about yourself that you had during your silence today. Refer to them often during the week; remember to make a note of new insights about yourself and your life that come to you this week.