Monday, April 14, 2014

very clear moments

Strong in the Rain 

by Kenji Miyazawa

Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs
His understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there’s a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid’
If there are strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everybody calls him Blockhead
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart

That is the sort of person
I want to be

- translation by Roger Pulvers

By now you might have seen the Thai insurance company commercial that's gone viral. If not, here it is.  The video reminded me of the poem.

The lines in the poem above struck me:

He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs
His understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things

I've been thinking a lot lately about the imperfections in our transactions with each other, in spite of best intentions, sometimes. About how easy it is to 'lose sight of things.' And also, how even though we can take part in hundreds of interactions that actually go pretty well, it's the one that didn't go quite so beautifully that sets up shop in our minds. It's the one we end up beating ourselves up over.

This somehow led me to think about how we present ourselves, especially on the internet. Those of us promoting a book at some point have to go on probably a bit too much about the book. At the same time we're attempting to convince everyone we can to buy the book, we might be filled with self-doubt and the feeling, the hope, that the next book will be better.

I don't think I'm the world's best poet, or blogger, and I know my photographs, while fine, are not always brilliant. I make mistakes every day. My house is often a mess, and the entire day could pass with toast crumbs on the kitchen table. I wish I could be kinder, and consistently think well of people. I wish for elegance. I wish to be more understanding. For compassion. I wish I could be less nervous some days, and more confident. I wish I'd said this instead of that.

The thing is, we're imperfect. I'm imperfect. Where to go with it?

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
 - Pema Chödrön


“Remind yourself, in whatever way is personally meaningful, that it is not in your best interest to reinforce thoughts and feelings of unworthiness. Even if you’ve already taken the bait and feel the familiar pull of self-denigration, marshal your intelligence, courage, and humor in order to turn the tide. Ask yourself: Do I want to strengthen what I’m feeling now? Do I want to cut myself off from my basic goodness? Remind yourself that your fundamental nature is unconditionally open and free.”
 - Pema Chodron

These are the thoughts I'm going to sit with today.

Leaving you with a hint of photographs to come this week. (With thanks to my mother-in-law for borrowed teacups)......


  1. Good morning, Shawna :) I think I will sit with these words today, too. They resonate deeply.
    I have to laugh, though, at a funny coincidence that has happened. I was given a box full of lovely teacups from my mother-in-law yesterday, and I was looking forward to spending some time with them with my camera later today. There are interesting stories to be told here, I think. I will look forward to hearing yours :) Have a lovely day.

    1. How cool is that! I will eagerly anticipate your photos :)


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