…and where will we hide when it comes from inside?


three am:
i’m haunted by a vague sense of dreadso i get up and stare out the back window:
the wind is gusting
and it’s the coldest night of the year —
i wonder how the juncos and chickadees are faring
feathers fluffed up against the blowing snowi put on my snowsuit and trudge out
around the bird feeders and down the hill towards the forest

in the middle of our ‘toboggan hill’ i stop, plunk down in the snow
and just gaze out into the darkness, listening

other than the wind i hear only
the rustling of the trees
and the low-pitched hoots of an owl, talking to herself
or perhaps warning me not to disturb her nightly prowl

worrythese days i worry about everything:
i drew the self-portrait at right to show the worry lines
around my eyes that i can’t see but which i feel —
they are a part of me always

i worry about keeping things together:
there is such a thin veil between civility and rage,
between hanging in and giving up,
between composure and madness

we don’t dare show who we really are

i worry about not knowing what i’m meant to do
now, or ever,
and not doing enough to find out, as if
by waiting, my intended purpose
will announce itself to me, with trumpet fanfare
and i’ll be escorted along the well-marked path
from wherever i am now, to that magic place
where those i’m meant to work with, and to love
will greet me, cheering, asking “where were you?”
and “what took you so long, we’ve been waiting

hah! yet still i wait here, paralyzed
and not knowing why:
nowhere to go

“the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting”,
eliot said — the fool, the coward

i worry about all the creatures in the world
who live miserable, captive lives, without hope:
their suffering haunts me night and day
far more than that of those who know they are mistreated,
who know the world is unfair

it is for those unknowing, all of them, and us, who can’t imagine
a better life that i cry
when i hear art garfunkel sing “bright eyes
for the dying rabbit in watership down

i worry for the generation after next:
they will learn to live
with monstrous debts that aren’t their own,
the careless legacy of those who came before

but mostly i worry about letting people down:
we are driven, after all, more by what others expect of us
than by our own compass
and somehow all we do, or try to do
is never good enough

the snow’s picked up
and now i’m shivering, so i rise
and climb back to the house, to make some tea
and sit by the fire, and wonder:
how did we lose our way? —
at seventeen, i knew, we knew, what we had to do
and how to go about it,

so what terrible knowledge intervened
to send us so off course?

why can we no longer hear
the quiet, certain voices that inform
the march of the penguins,
telling our wretched species
how to find the way home?

thanks to fellow Slogger meg at blogcabin for the inspiration
and to jt for the title; photo from my flickr collection

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14 Responses to …and where will we hide when it comes from inside?

  1. Marty says:

    Great vessels can hold more of everything–joy, wonder AND worry. May be you are living precisely the purpose that was intended for you? How would you know if you were/weren’t? Even Beethoven got the blues.I skied backcountry near Rogers Pass while you starfished in Ontario. Snow-dampend trees hushed all worries–but not the chickadees who were jubilant. I feel for you when nature’s embrace can’t cradle your angst.For if not her enduring and indifferent arms, then whose? Ever notice while night driving that staring into oncoming headlights leads you out of your lane?

  2. dave davison says:

    Dave: you worry too much! As a virtual friend, I think maybe it’s the winter blues that has you in its grip. I regularly return to your blog for stimulating thinking – and believe that your writing efforts are “good enough” for me.As an example, I am wrestling currently with a “go/no” decision on accepting the responsibility as Executive Producer to create and manage a new channel on the Conversations Network. Your post yesterday on the Future of Media provided a very useful insight – namely, the need on the part of “audience” members ( listeners in this case) for “actionable information” and for support mechanisms to aid the listener to “take action”As I consider the Conversation Network opportunity – I now ask myself – in addition to trying to be clear on WHO is the audience – to have enough of a grasp on WHAT constitutes “actionable information” in the general rubric of “preparedness”. So your Future of Media post was “good enough” to direct my thinking more specifically to defining a Point of View about what actions my intended audience is capable of executing, what kind of information they would require to be alerted to the need for these actions, who and where are the reputable sources of the information they need to absorb in order to take these actions – and probably, most importantly, so that they don’t feel alone in considering taking action – who else out here in Cyberspace is wanting to join them in both learning more about tne need for action, and finding common ground from which to act.As you know, your fellow Canadian Jeff Skoll has successfully put into practice “changing the world – one story at a time” with his first 3 movies and the linking of his movie messages to an activist support network for the engaged audiences of these movies. Your post reinforced this actionable information theme and reminded me of Jeff’s model which I will now follow to its hopefully logical conclusion as I try to design BE PREPARED – as a new channelon the Conversations NetworkTHANKS for being “good enough”

  3. Paul Hunt says:

    When I was 19, I knew what the world needed and acted on it. Then life got in the way.Now that I’m 52, I’m back to doing the same thing. The world still needs it, and now I can do it better, with more knowhow, and connections.

  4. Nick Smith says:

    You are Love and Love is it’s own reward. The way to see it in ourselves is to see it in each other.When we want only this, then this is all we see.Life teaches us what we really want.We learn through suffering or joy (our choice)Life delights to set us free – this is it’s only purpose.No one meets by chance, andyou cannot help but be in the right place at the right time.So, just relax and enjoy the ride

  5. etbnc says:

    Great vessels can hold more of everything…Indeed! And the strongest among us often carry the heaviest loads, sometimes without sufficientrest or reward. It seems to me that expectation is an expression of belief, and we know that belief is a strong force. If your readers have expectations of you, Dave, I suspect they express their belief in your strength, in your demonstrated ability to carry more than your share of our load, in your capacity to contain more of everything.It takes courage to write with candor and conviction. Perhaps we readers can contribute to this new media partnership by replenishing the courage contained in the great vessels in our midst.We appreciate your effort, Dave. So breathe deeply, relax, recuperate, replenish. Do what you need to do to recover your balance. And carry on, you courageous Canadian!

  6. Melinda says:

    OK it’s time I comment. Have been reading you almost daily for about two years now. Your blog is indispensible to me. First: the effect of your blog title. How to Save the World. How to save the world! All of it. Not this pond. Not that species. Not this child. But the ENTIRE friggin WORLD! Every last molecule. It mirrors the fullness of your intent and the world – now listen carefully to this, Dave – the world is nourished by the mere proclamation of such an attitude. Just the title alone has already changed things. It has changed me. And I am (god help me) changing the world. And I’ll bet good money that there are others like me out there.Your weekly, sometimes daily expositions of ideas, approaches, practical advice, alternatives, systems… came accross (a) as an immense labour of love that inspired me to do likewise with my own talents; (b) as a well-informed fully-equipped well-spoken warrior (in the mythic sense) protecting life and sentience everywhere. This second impression goes a long way to counteract the usual sense of hopelessness that threaten to overwhelm those of us who labour on your side. There were days when I virtually “fed” on the sense of competent know-how that your blog radiates.Finally, it is GOOD that you are so deeply moved by the unecessary suffering all around us. I have a friend who used to cry every time she heard the words Bosnia, or Sarajevo, or orphan. She still does – more trigger-words are added to her list each year. It is as if she feels everything the rest of us won’t allow ourselves to feel. This post of yours (and a few prior ones which seem to have foreshadowed this one) is a reminder to me of HOW IT REALLY IS for the lost millions. The Lost Ones are our ten-thousand reasons for doing what we do. It boils down to love.Dispair. (I do) Rage. (I do) Be stunned and dumbfounded. (I am) But never ever stop loving the world as you do. Please. You keep many of us going by your mere existenceand through this blog – proof of your amazing, amazing, amazing intent to Save the Entire Friggin World! Your intent has become our intent.When the big picture fails you, return to saving this child and that species for a while. Plant trees, cook soup and turn your television into a post-modern garden gnome. For as long as it takes to get that a new bounce back in your step. We are walking (or limping) right next to you.

  7. Mariella says:

    Dear Dave….. how could you be so lucid and energetic in generating and proposing ideas for trying to save the world if you could not have this kind of inner contacts…. it is this kind of SAUDADE (do you know this portuguese word with no exact translation in spanish or english?)what thrusts our empathy with existance…… and give movement and intention to our creativity…..maybe this saudade is the moment our mental processes need to rest and take a look – i mean a sensorial connection – around… only a look…….as Nick Smith say : just relax and enjoy the ride….It is healthy to share this feelings…. we always find out we are not alone.

  8. Ginger says:

    Ah, Melinda, you expressed so well many of my feelings about How To Save The World and the effect Dave has on us. I love your statement, “We are walking (or limping) right next to you. Dave, I empathize with your anguish and anxiety. I guess we have to remember that we are not shouldering the weight of the world alone, although many times it sure feels like it. Giving up won’t solve anything for anyone but oneself–I have to remind myself of this at least once a day. Not only will giving up not solve anything, it will put an end to the good that comes of your efforts. I really appreciate your efforts to effect changes on a large scale, and the way you share in detail your thoughts, research techniques, and findings with us. Dave, you are a great educator and communicator. You ARE telling us how to save the world. And we are listening and acting, inspired by your dedication. I know that it may seem as if it’s not enough, that you should be doing more because so much needs to be done. You are not alone in feeling this way. What you and I and Melinda and all of the others who care so deeply about this world and its creatures need to remember is that we must not give up, and that we must also allow ourselves to enjoy life–to take time to bask in the beauty of nature without always thinking of the suffering. Time to just “be”. Respite. Dave, I hope that you are able to take a break to unwind, to relax. Don’t drive yourself so hard all the time. Perhaps you could find out what type of massage you prefer and report back to us?

  9. Dave Pollard says:

    Wow. I’m overwhelmed by your kindness and concern! Thank you so much. There are times when I just have to get things out of my system. This blog’s nothing if not authentic. I’m far from giving up — I’ll let you know if I ever even get close to that. Neil Young’s little-known song Will to Love probably explains me better than I could ever do. It goes:It has often been my dream to live with one who wasn’t there Like an ocean fish who swam upstream through nets,by hooks, and hungry bears When the water grew less deep, my fins were aching from the strain I’m swimming in my sleep; I know I can’t go back again.Got the will to love, I’ll never lose the will to love; It’s like something from up above.I can be like a fire in the night always warm and giving off light But there comes a time when I shine too bright.Now my fins are in the air and my belly’s scraping on the rocksI still think someone really cares and I’ll keep swimming till I stop.I’m like a singer on the stage, with the golden lights and the liquid rageDown from the mountains to the sea cool running love keeps cleansing me,It keeps my gills from getting dry but it distorts things in my eyesSometimes I see what really isn’t there, like my true lover, and I care.Sometimes I ramble on and on and repeat myself ’til all my friends are goneGet lost in snow and drown in rain and never feel the same again.I remember the ocean from where I came, just one of millions all the sameBut somewhere someone calls my name, I’m a harpoon dodger, and I can’t, won’t be tamed.Babe, if I see boredom in your eyes I’ll know my river has run dryBut I won’t turn back with that lonely tide: I bought that ticket and I’ll take that ride.If we meet along the way, please, sway beside me, let us sway togetherOur tails together and our fins aligned, we’ll leave this water and let our scales shineIn the sun above and the sky below so all the water and earth will know.I feel you all swaying beside me, dear friends. We have a long way to go.(PS Mariella — Saudade has its own lengthy explanation in wikipedia. What a wonderful word! Best addition to my vocabulary since schadenfreude.)

  10. Nick Smith says:

    The world is constantly changing as is anything we perceive.<br/>While ever we look at the world, identify ourselves with it and then call it ‘home’, we are bound resist those changes and that resistance can only cause great distress and despair as we ‘suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'<br/>Are we so sure the world is home? Isn’t home the place we perceive it from? <br/>When we choose to look beyond appearances we find Life itself, and recognise it as both unchanging and forever benevolent. Aren’t we that? <br/>Surely perceptions don’t need saving, don’t they simply reflect the thinking that creates them?

  11. Meg says:

    This is beautiful and very true to the spirit of my own words, in a way. The things we think when rest won’t come are generally the things we can’t afford to rest on.

  12. theresa says:

    It’s a such nice garden here. With singing birds and shelter, safety. Lots of intellectual nourishment and room for play. Freedom to fly in and out and say pretty much anything. To be such a gardener is most admirable.I like to read everything here because it always seems just a little out of reach, that with a little bit of effort I will just be able to grasp it or get a glimpse of it, most enticing. The glimpse isn’t always what I’d bargained for. This comment thread is lovely and startling. Thursday’s post about environmental security was most intriguing. I couldn’t quite see the call to action. It said something about an holistic perspective but didn’t explain much more. I figured I could learn things in places other than here. I started from what I understood from one of your references to a continuity between complexity and chaos. There were patterns in there taking shape that could be detected, good patterns could be identified and encouraged and with enough of those the tide would turn. Or that is how I interpreted it. Driven to understand how an holistic perspective could emerge I took off my shelf a couple of books with completely different approaches to the same problems. The Ingenuity Gap homer-dixon, and The spell of the Sensuous. I figured if I re-read them both at the same time moving back and forth, looking at the similarities and differences simultaneously something would click into place. And it did click into place. While reading about the limits and adaptability of the brain (Brains and Ingenuity) in context of the complete rewiring that it would take to go back to a sensuous way of perceiving, and then remembering what you said about “time is our only enemy” – it was just a devestating insight. I approached it as if I was sure to come into some enlightenment so it was just devestating. A few days ago I was feeling very gaurded about following the thought processes of someone who didn’t seem to have any ultimate vision or didn’t seem toknow where he was going. I think I understand now that it is not about your being fatalistic, its just that you pay “the price of knowing”. A price and no clear guidelines of how to “enlighten” people to awful possibilities. Better to tell the truth? maybe it’s safer to just give a hint, and anybody like me who wants to chase after it can. Anybody who would rather not know won’t.I don’t know if this is useful feedback for you, or even if you read these after several days. I hope so.Thanks for all this opportunity to find my own answers.

  13. kerry says:

    Sometimes, it seems to me, things get worse before they get better. Perhaps, when your generation was young, Dave, the glimmer of an altnerative way was seen. But how to generate the critical mass needed to make those changes? It would appear that pain is a powerful catalyst. My hope is that the next step is embraced with sufficient depth by enough people to make a real difference.Love,Kerry

  14. LOSSOFRAVEN says:

    … touching; feels so true; feels like me; wish I’d wrote it… hang in there; don’t be so hard on yourself… great words!

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