December 22, 2008

The Swan

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

Translated by Robert Bly

David Whyte says of this poem:
I realized it was much simpler, much simpler even than dying and living. All the swan does to effect its transformation from awkwardness to grace and belonging is move toward the element where it belongs. That's all it does. I thought it was an astonishing key, an extraordinary key to transformation: all you have to know in your life are the things you love, the things you hold in your affection. You only have to know the frontiers, where simply by being at that frontier, you come alive. Take an inventory of your life. What is the work that brings you alive? What are the places that bring you alive? What are the conversations that vitalize you? In whose presence, simply by being in their presence, do you find yourself making the best of yourself, do you find yourself coming to the fore? Will you have faith in those frontiers, those extraordinary places that effect extraordinary transformations, and will you arrange your life, so you can spend more time at those frontiers?
These are the questions I live. In my experience each soul knows when they are out of alignment with their heart and soul; on some level they know how far away from true north they have moved. When one moves into alignment with that which is most authentic in them, there is a wondrous synchronicity, meaningful coincidence and aliveness that infuses one's life. It just feels right, and others can recognize this. Energy becomes available that was locked away as other agendas were attended to; as we try to compensate for the lack of connection and authenticity. Like the swan out of water, awkward and out of his element, once he lowers himself down into the water, he is in his element, he is in the stream and is carried along in the current, transported and buoyed by the water, and what emerges naturally and spontaneously is authenticity, beauty, belonging, grace and genuineness.


Steven Crisp said...

Give the poor guys some skates, I mean jeez ;-)

Yes, I would agree with the truths in the reflection. We are all awkward when we are trying to be someone or something we are not. And we only need to be true to ourselves (assuming we have some insight and wisdom as to what that happens to be).

You see, the swans on the ice represent us as we try to "fake it 'till we make it". Better to avoid situations that cause us to have to fake it. It's OK to be learning; to be seeking. But not to be pretending, to be faking.

May you glide through life with the grace and poise of swans in their element. And if you find yourself walking on thin ice, beware the photographer ;-)

Vincent said...

That's a powerful message, gracefully delivered.