Monthly Archives: February 2016

Amazing Thinking & Amazing Insights from BrainPickings

My Osteopath introduced me to Brain Pickings.

It’s hard to put this eclectic, philosophical, introspective and intriguing site into words but founder, collator, researcher, writer and bottle washer, Maria Popova offers this description:

“Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.”

Every week, when I click through a link in Popova’s newsletter, I feel like I imagine Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. But this Wonderland is more of a literary and intellectual salon — a place of good food, good wine, good conversation and always, good insights.

In one of these rabbit holes, I discovered why I did what I did for a living despite the fact that it was mind numbing and simultaneously self important.  I worked in corporations. I know how much there is to do, how good it feels to cross off items on your list of work.

I could never articulate just how intellectually and spiritually deadening my work environment was.  Then Popova shared a passage written almost 70 years ago by writer Willa Cather who was writing in response to her long time companion, Sarah Jewitt:

My Dear, Dear Miss Jewett;

Such a kind and earnest and friendly letter as you sent me! I have read it over many times. I have been in deep perplexity these last few years, and troubles that concern only one’s habits of mind are such personal things that they are hard to talk about. You see I was not made to have to do with affairs — what Mr. McClure calls “men and measures.”

If I get on at that kind of work it is by going at it with the sort of energy most people have to exert only on rare occasions. Consequently I live just about as much during the day as a trapeze performer does when he is on the bars — it’s catch the right bar at the right minute, or into the net you go. I feel all the time so dispossessed and bereft of myself.

My mind is off doing trapeze work all day long and only comes back to me when it is dog tired and wants to creep into my body and sleep. I really do stand and look at it sometimes and threaten not to take it in at all — I get to hating it so for not being any more good to me. Then reading so much poorly written matter as I have to read has a kind of deadening effect on me somehow.

I know that many great and wise people have been able to do that, but I am neither large enough nor wise enough to do it without getting a kind of dread of everything that is made out of words. I feel diluted and weakened by it all the time — relaxed, as if I had lived in a tepid bath until I shrink from either heat or cold.

Popova finishes these observations with this very salient quote from Parker Palmer, “… “the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on.”

That was my life; don’t let it be yours.

 

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In Honor of ALL Differences & In Celebration of Black History Month

The poem below focuses on being different because you are black.  I share it in honor of black history month, in honor of all the wonderful women I have met in my life whose skin was a different color than mine but whose soul was my mirror.

I share it for Rosella Clemmons Washington, my soul sister.  She sang like an angel, laughed with her whole body and still makes me smile when I look at her pictures.

Jazz singer Rosella Clemmons Washington.

I share it for  her mother, Mama Rose, who taught me how deep love can be and how long it can last.

I share it because this beautiful poem goes to the heart of what I have said all my life. I cannot imagine how very many lovely souls I would have missed had I stopped at color, or weight, or height, religion, sexual orientation or any of the myriad ways we categorize each other.

We are all so much more than the wrapper we live in.
Please treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Black Prayer

Why Did You Make Me Black Lord
Lord .. Why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet.
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets.

Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt.
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?
Lord, I just don’t understand.
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away.
Black is the color of shadows cast.
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right.
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

God’s Reply:

Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed.
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need.
Your color is the same as the black stallion and
panther, Oh what majestic creatures indeed!

All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation.
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool,
such a beautiful creature is he.
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!

You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes.
There’s a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain.
That’s why your cheeks are so high!

You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September.
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss…they will remember!

Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time.
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back, that is MINE!

So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see.
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness.
I made you in the image of ME!

by RuNett Nia-Ebo

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