Consolations : The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words - by David Whyte.



my notes:

ALONE
To be alone for any length of time is to shed an outer skin. The body is inhabited in a different way when we are alone than when we are with others. Alone, we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement.

To love something that feels like a choice, not a state to which we have been condemned.

AMBITION
The disease of ambition is that it can be so easily explained to others.

No matter the self-conceited importance of our labors, we are all compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine.

ANGER
What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life.

Anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.

What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete but absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.

BEAUTY
Beauty is the conversation between what we think is happening outside in the world and what is just about to occur far inside us.

It is an inner and outer complexion living on one face.

CONFESSION
No confession is without consequences.

To confess is to declare oneself ready for a more courageous road, one in which a previously defended identity might not only be shorn away, but be seen to be irrelevant.

COURAGE
Courage comes from the old Norman French word Couer, or heart.

It is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life.

To be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.

French philosopher Albert Camus said to “live to the point of tears.”

Courage is what love looks like when tested by the simple everyday necessities of being alive.

DENIAL
Refusing to face what we are not yet ripe and ready to face can help us to live in the present.

DESPAIR
Despair turns to depression and abstraction when we try to make it stay beyond its appointed season and start to shape our identity around its frozen disappointments.

The antidote to despair is to pay a profound and courageous attention to the way we hold it, and which we realize, was never ours to own and to hold in the first place.

It is a difficult, beautiful necessity; it is a season, a waveform passing through the body, not a prison surrounding us.

DESTINY
The way we face the world alters the face we see in the world.

Every person always lives out their destiny no matter what they do.

DISSAPOINTMENT
It is the hidden, underground, engine of trust and generosity in a human life.

It may be just the first stage of our emancipation into the next greater pattern of existence.

It is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life.

FORGIVENESS
It not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source.

Like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defenses must remember and organize against any future attacks.

To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.

If forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.

FRIENDHSIP
A friend is a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them.

A close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves.

We must know the other and encourage the best in them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less or themselves.

Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationships: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited live and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.

A diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble.

The ultimate touchstone of friendship is to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

GRATITUDE
Gratitude arrises from paying attention.

It is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air.

To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him.

HEARTBREAK
It is an indication of our sincerity.

It is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection.

It may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it.

HONESTY
Every human being dwells intimately close to a door of revelation they are afraid to pass through.

It is not found in revealing the truth, but in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are.

To become honest is in effect to become fully and robustly incarnated into powerlessness.

It allows us to live with not knowing.

We do not know the full story, we do not know where we are in the story; we do not know who is at fault or who will carry the blame in the end.

JOY
It is a meeting place, of deep intentionality and of self forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formerly seemed outside.

LONELINESS
It is a privilege. Human beings may have the ability to feel aloneness as no other creature can; with a power magnified by intelligence and imagination.

It is the place from which we pay real attention to voices other than our own.

To make aloneness a friend is to apprentice ourselves to the foundation from which we make our invitation to others.

LONGING
In the longing and possession of romantic live, it is as if the body has been loaned to someone else but has then from some remote place, taken over the senses.

MATURITY
It is the ability to live fully and equally in the past, present and future all at once.To be immature is to live only in one or two.

MEMORY
It is a pulse passing through all created life, a waveform, a THEN continually becoming other THENS, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable NOW.

It makes the NOW fully inhabitable.

NAMING
We can never know in the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind olive we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation before the revelation has flowered completely we find ourselves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief may miss the particular form of live that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations.

We name mostly in order to control but what is worth living does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling.

NOSTALGIA
It subverts the present by its overwhelming physical connection to a person or a place, making us wonder, in the meeting of past and present, if the intervening years ever occurred.

It is not an immersion in the past, nostalgia is the first annunciation that the past as we know it is coming to an end.

PAIN
It is the doorway to the here and now.

In real pain we have no other choice but to learn to ask for help and on a daily basis. Pain tells us we belong and cannot live forever alone or in isolation.

It is appreciation; for most of all the simple possibility and gift of a pain-free life - all the rest is a bonus.

PILGRIM
It is a word that accurately describes the average human being; someone on their way somewhere else, but someone never quite knowing whether the destination or the path stands first in importance.

PROCRASTINATION
It enables us to understand the true measure of our reluctance.

It helps us to understand the hidden, darker side of the first enthusiastic idea. To put an underbelly into the work itself so that it becomes a living, satisfying whole, not a surface trying to manipulate us in the moment.

To procrastinate is to be involved with larger entities than our own ideas.

REGRET
Sincere regret may in fact be a faculty for paying attention to the future.

It turns our eyes, attentive and alert to a future possible lived better than our past.

REST
To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right.

To rest is not self-indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.

ROBUSTNESS
It belongs with vulnerability. To be robust is to show a willingness to take collateral damage.

It is not an option in most human lives, to choose its opposite is to become invisible.

ROME
Nothing lasts in the form it is first constructed or understood.

Only in maturity do we begin to understand that none of us know the true perspective with which we will be viewed or the way in which our memory will be enjoyed.

RUN AWAY
In the wild, the best response to dangerous circumstances is often not to run but to assume a profoundly attentive identity.

Rarely is it good to run, but we are wiser when we realize we can never flee from the need to run away.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE
Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality.

We are neither what we think we are nor entirely what we are about to become.

The real foundation of the self is not in self-knowledge, but in the self-forgetfulness that occurs when it meets something other than the self it wanted to know.

SHADOW
It does not exist by itself, it is cast.

To become transparent is to lose one’s shadow altogether, something that is not attainable by human beings.

Shadow is not good or bad, only inescapable.

SHYNESS
To feel shy is to look five ways at once: to the becoming new life in front of us, to the line of retreat behind us, to alternative possibilities of escape to left and right, and in really difficult circumstances, the hope for a complete and sudden disappearance.

Without shyness, our over-confidence precludes us from the appropriate confusion, awkwardness and helplessness that accompanies the first stage of revelation.

TOUCH
Being alive in the world means being found by that world and sometimes touched to the core in ways we would rather not experience.

To forge an untouchable, invulnerable identity is actually a sign of retreat from this world; of weakness, a sign of fear rather than strength and betrays a strange misunderstanding of an abiding, foundational and necessary reality: that untouched, we disappear.

WORK
It is actually intimacy, the place where the self meets the world.

Profit, recognition, wealth: are beautiful by-products only when they come as the children of this falling in love.

With the right work, the right relationship to that work and the mystery of what is continually being revealed to us through our endeavors, we find a home in the world that eventually does not need debilitating stress.