Help! We Need Somebodies!

This past weekend I just finished reading a very funny and inspiring book by Susan Latke (Life’s Too Short To Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons From An Epic Friendship That Went The Distance). I highly recommend this read, especially if you think you are not an athletic person and eschew those whom you are acquainted with who enjoy individual sports like running, biking, swimming. This book is a testament to the life-giving, life-changing power of an enduring friend/mentor relationship.

I think it is not a coincidence, that I happened across this quote this morning. It strongly iterates the beauty and vital importance of the connectivity we need from each other.

In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just a little reminder for all of us. If I had a wish that could be granted, I would wish to be or have a friend like Carlos Nunez was to Susan Latke. Such a friendship can change the the world…

Help! by the Beatles (lyrics below)

(Help!) I need somebody
(Help!) Not just anybody
(Help!) You know I need someone

[Verse 1]
When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

[Verse 2]
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze

But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

New Things

I am of the opinion that the hype and celebration of the incoming new year is perhaps, a tiny bit overrated. Is it not just another occasion to excel in over-eating, drinking and merriment? On the other side of all this festivity, what do we have to show for our annual exuberant abandonment of decorum? Well, I’ll give you two weeks, three weeks tops, to answer that question for me. And then I am certain that life will settle itself into its dull, mind-numbing routines.

Now isn’t that a dreary opening! I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading this post right now! So I’m going to get right to the guts of today’s post.

Regardless of how I feel about it, the NEW YEAR 2023 has arrived. And in its wake, I see on the horizon the forecast of things to come. Yes on the horizon, brooding and heavy with winter’s cloak I see dawn breaking. I see the rays of hope beaming through clouds of gray; I see ripples in the fabric of sky and sea casting buoyant expectations for new ways, new days. The possibilities for change, for new peace, and new meaning is abundant. This is the stuff of January! And I want to drink deeply of its sentiment; I want to soak and luxuriate in the potentiality of its fresh aliveness. Yes, it is a time to celebrate…it is a time to embrace and activate a new way of being. If not now? When?

“The world is for newness, not for oldness. New, new things we have to create. Then only the world will progress. If not, we will come to feel that there is nothing new under the sun. We have to create new things to keep our joy. If there is no newness, how can we have enthusiasm? And if there is no enthusiasm, do we make any progress?”

Sri Chinmoy

So without further adieu, I would ask you to do this one exercise with me this month; to stop and think deeply about this question: What NEW THINGS do you want this year? What would you like to change? What do you want more of? Less of?

Like so many things in life, these questions are simple, but the answers are NOT. Because to acquire new things for ourselves always requires us to change; to let go, to empty, to clean out and drop old things, old ways of being. To become an updated version of ourselves this year will require us to be open-minded so we may embrace new thinking and new thoughts; overused and worn out beliefs about ourselves need to be reduced, recycled and reused as the overlays of our continuing personal evolutions. Ridding ourselves of worn out beliefs about ourselves will unshackle us from the old versions of being. Remember, old things cannot continue to live in us unless we continue to feed them with our attention; the old ways only become fodder for wisdom when we let those things die which no longer serve our well-being. It’s time my friends…it’s a NEW YEAR…it’s time for us all to do NEW THINGS!

“So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.”

Neil Gaiman

START CLOSE IN – by David Whyte

Start close in, don’t take the second step, or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know,
the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way to begin the conversation.

Start with your own question,
give up on other people’s questions,
don’t let them smother something simple.

To hear another’s voice,
follow your own voice,
wait until that voice
becomes an intimate private ear
that can really listen to another.

Start right now, take a small step
you can call your own,
don’t follow someone else’s heroics,
be humble and focused,
start close in, don’t mistake
that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

START CLOSE IN ~ David Whyte : Essentials
Many Rivers Press © David Whyte

A New Year’s poem, if ever there was one. Carrying that certain air of self-admonition we all need to go in the right direction, and do the right thing. This piece was inspired by my growing familiarity with Dante’s ‘Comedia’, particularly the first lines, written in despair after being exiled from his beloved Florence. It reflects the difficult act we all experience, of trying to start again when everything has been taken away; the necessity of stepping bravely again, into what looks like a dark wood, when the outer world as we know it has disappeared, when the world can only be met and in some ways made again from no outer ground, but from the very center of our being. The temptation is to take the second or third step outer step, not the first inward one, to ignore the invitation into the center of our own body, often into the source of our grief and our reluctance: an attempt to finesse the raw vulnerability and the absolutely necessary understanding at the core of the pattern, to forgo the radical and almost miraculous simplification into which we are being invited. For a better, truer New Year – the invitation is always, always, always, to ‘Start close In.’

Woman Walking
Yorkshire Dales
Photo © David Whyte
December 2015