Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Ode to Mowing the Lawn

Sometimes I mow from side to side,
sometimes from up to down
No one’s life depends on it.
The end product is not very different.
What matters is I notice I have a choice,
especially here where the stakes are low
so that when it matters more—
when in the balance are hearts and lives—
I remember there are many ways to “do it right.”
How do I do it, this act of loving you?
How do I do it, this forgiveness,
this surrender? And how will the path
I choose today change what is forever?
Oh this practice of pathmaking,
how sometimes it’s benign,
and sometimes it changes what’s here.
I push the mower through the grass this morning,
notice the record of how I’ve passed through.
I think of you. The scent of what if
hangs green and alive in the air.

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If I could do it all again,
I would—every blooming bit of it.
Every bout of pink eye,
every snotty nose, every
late night waking, every
single reading of Good Night Moon,
every fairy house, every
drive to every ballet class,
every singalong to the entire
soundtrack of Hamilton,
every wobble and stumble
and blunder and lapse
to arrive at this very moment
when we lie on her bed
in the dark and talk about
this miracle, this astonishing
life, and watch dumb videos
and curl into each other.
In every moment, a seed.
It surprises me now,
how beautiful the field.

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Choosing Truth

And if I find I’d rather not meet the truth,
then I can notice the little girl in me,
the one who hides in the closet
when she is afraid, the one who plays dead,
the one who ends all her stories with happily
ever after, and I can choose to love her.
I don’t need to drag her out or force her to look
or tell her that sometimes the villain wins in the end.
Instead, I can remind the rest of me how alive I feel
when I meet it all, when I choose to enter the day
eyes open, ears open, hands open
and let the world in. That is how,
on this day when I know the truth
of how cruel we humans can be,
I can lean into that pain at the same time
I watch the sky turn pink behind the white aspen
and feel the cold air kiss my cheeks,
my breath rising in visible prayer
meeting difficult truths I walk right through.

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for J Unterberg

In the picture on the news,

the little black girl holds a sign

that says, I’m your next president.

And in the grocery store,

the clerk smiles at me from behind her mask

and compliments my dress.

Consumed as I’ve been

with a sorrow so great

it swallowed our country whole,

I had thought it would take an energy

equally great and opposite

to pull me away from the bleak edge.

But then a stranger walked up to my car

where I was parked on the side of the road

to make sure I was okay. And just like that

I felt myself backing away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit.

It can be so small, what reminds us

who we are—a people who want

to thrive, to live in peace,

a people who are kind to each other

not because we have earned it, but

because kindness is in our nature.

I want to vote for that little girl,

want to help create the just world she rises in.

I want to help someone else

back away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit, another bit.

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When Making a Choice




It’s like any new landscape. At first,

You don’t know which direction to look.

Each time you look east, you regret


you can’t at the same time look west.

Soon you become a spinning top, unable

to focus anywhere without wanting to turn


and see what you’re missing. For a time,

it serves you, this willingness to see every side,

keeps you from making poor choices. But then,


spinning and spinning becomes dizzying.

What would it be like, you wonder,

to make a clear choice and then walk


that direction and never look back?

And so you try it—at first by forcing yourself

to look only one way. It’s not easy to walk


a straight line when you’ve been spinning.

Then you begin to notice how good it feels

to put one foot in front of the other


and walk a single course. It is, after all,

all a single person can do. How easy, now

that you’re not always looking away,


how easy to notice every detail about this landscape,

to revel in each step, to focus being

here, and now here, and only here.

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The day dares me to become a tree,

dares me to root, to stay in one place,

to choose this here, to plant myself in this now,

to stretch down even as I reach up.


But there are gusts in me, and wild squalls,

whirling impulses that swirl and spin

and whisper to me to be current, be flow.

Winds in me that says go, darling, go.


And the day says stay to me. The day

says, find evergreen in the moment.

The day offers me its ground, its generous soil.

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To live a day, to care for a single day, is to shape a life. Each day is an opportunity to choose where to place our care. What shall we do today? What simple acts of remembrance will we use to punctuate our time and enrich our walk upon the earth this single day?

—Wayne Muller, How, Then, Shall We Live?



How many kindnesses did I miss today?

How many chances to help another

did I walk past, my eyes somehow fixed


already around the corner? How much beauty

went unnoticed? How much joy left

unspent? I am like the hiker at the foot


of the mountain who wanders in the fog,

not noticing the fog circles only the base. If I chose

to climb just a little, I’d see how red cliffs reflect


afternoon sun, see how new snow

catches in the trees and makes of each limb

a masterpiece. How is it I am not in


a constant state of wonder? Even

the fog gathers the pink of morning,

makes a practice of softening each


surface it touches. So simple,

the art of choosing to pay attention,

a sidewalk not so different in this regard


from a mountain. Every face a chance

to fall in love. Every human story

an opportunity to listen, to place our care.

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When you walk along a cliff

and look over the edge,

a bit of the cliff will find its way

into your thoughts


and there, that place where

you were feeling quite safe

just a moment ago, now feels

charged with exposure.


Just today, a cliff said to me

that if I only would jump

then perhaps I would find my wings,

or perhaps then a tender angel


would deliver me—

you will never know,

said the cliff, if you keep walking

in that same direction you always walk—










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trillions of choices, sure, but really it all amounts to one long road

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And So Live

at the splitting of paths
there is no sign

or die

tough choice
till we realize
we must do both

*This is the first in a series of 84-character poems about transmutation, Brian Swimme’s seventh power of the universe. In EnlightenNext, he writes, “This is the way in which the universe sometimes insists that something new come forth. … When Earth finally emerged and brought forth bacteria, why didn’t the universe just call it a day? Isn’t it enough that tiny pieces of Earth jump with life? Apparently not. Our universe is a self-transcending community of beings, and transcendence is often a necessity.”

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