Start Close In

Dear Sor Juana,

Waiting can bring anxiety, excitement, fear, boredom – the space between the now and what is to come is more likely to inspire me with ideas of the future than to be a student of the end game. Dreams, forecasts and the what is possible usually fill me in the waiting. Being able to imagine what is possible is always the first step.

David Whyte’s poem Start Close In  comes to me – to start with the step you don’t want to take, in the ground you know, the ground beneath your own feet. These first steps take you from the waiting to the next place. In my preamble to this poem I say: be still in the waiting and get to know the ground beneath your feet then you can start as truly close in as possible, and from this place, calibrate, settle, still and come to know what it is about that step you don’t want to take … then take it.

Sor Juana, I haven’t been able to take some steps recently to be excited, yet there is a lot to be excited about: new life, new beginnings and new territories to explore.  All dreams-in-waiting, waiting for me to take the first step. Yet I have been holding back, not wanting to get excited, reserving my self and steeling myself in case potential is not realised, or even worse perhaps is realised! How to let go and be, to stand in the space of waiting and then to take the first step towards the future (known and unknown) is not my usual predisposition.  I am mostly comfortable with not knowing what will unfold, and often eager to ride the waves and see where they take me. But recently I’ve noticed I am holding back and even at times holding on.

Coffee with Sor Juana

Coffee with Sor Juana

The call I have heard this week is to step into excitement. I found my response via midwives who came in the guise of coffee, a sixteen week child, the word “adventure” and returning to a familiar place for food and conversation. Each have invited me to take first steps to get excited and I feel renewed.   I like the idea that you too would combine science and imagination, poetry and cooking to fuel and for you the thought process, and the very definition of the self, always returns to and necessitates a body and its sustenance. To be sustained by some basics like a cup of coffee, a hug, a word and the familiarity of happy times took me this week to stillness and then propelled me to take first steps into excitement (perhaps caffeine fuelled). Each first step firmly planted in what had gone before, deep memory, deep knowledge and connections beyond time, beyond space. Where stories of childbirth became instruction for the next generation, where the brew tickled mu adrenal gland into excitement, where adventure became invitation and little hands forecasted a new role on the horizon.

I agree with you Sor Juana, in the body is where the first signs of wisdom and definition of self return are sustained. The top-up from play in my life made the ground fertile and sowed the seeds of excitement my mid wives were able to harvest this week.

Interplay: Adelaide Summer Untensive, January 2015  Photo: Trish Fairley

Interplay: Adelaide Summer Untensive, January 2015  Photo: Trish Fairley

 

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

 

3 thoughts on “Start Close In

  1. Pauline Small

    My closest step has to be taken inside, forming the attitude. It took a while but now my fitness and strength are building and I am enjoying both the pride in achievement and what this will enable me to do in coming steps. Who knows where the basic step leads?

    Reply
  2. Kym

    ‘…How to let go and be, to stand in the space of waiting…’
    Oh the agony of waiting for new beginnings… I too find myself at a crossroads Moira, and feel paralysed with indecisiveness, lacking the courage to jump, weighed down by responsibility, obligation…waiting for someone else to determine my future – not an environment I am used to as I set the sail, I steer the ship, this time however, waiting, waiting, waiting for new opportunities…’how to let go and be, to stand in the space of waiting…’ my work for the week. As always, I manage to find pearls of wisdom in your words, thankyou.

    Reply

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