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Be Still in Haste

When I read poetry, it gives me opportunities to consider the rich paradox that living brings with it. Wendell Berry proposes that in the title. How do I experience being still in haste?

David Bohm who was a theoretical physicist suggested that paradox dissolve unlike problems. Problems wait to be solved, but what if there are multiple ways to understand and solve the problem?

Bohm used the example of war and argued that people from all sides justified war citing problems with their enemies. Instead of asking about war, what if we asked about killing innocent children? Bohm suggested, for the most part, humans agreed that killing innocents was wrong. In that case, war is paradoxical and, when we begin with something we agree upon, we begin to dissolve the issue and see it through new eyes.

Time is similarly paradoxical. We act and speak as though we control, quantify, save, and manage it, but this moment is the only time we experience this moment. Time is fleeting and has qualities that resist us, dissolving in its fluidity becoming paradoxical. Time calls us to be present and mindful of the moment we live in, as it dissolves into the next never to be re-experienced.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

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Be Still in Haste

I find Wendell Berry’s poetry speaks to me about being mindful and attentive in each moment I live. It calls me to be present and explore the mystery in each moment, knowing each moment carries me like a river flowing without knowing where it is going.

The etymology of anarchy suggests we continuously begin anew in each moment. It is not a free-for-all with no rules. Instead, the universe provides us with the rules of what it means to live in that moment. In being present, I come to understand each moment is a re-beginning that is forever unfolding.

Taking the time to be present, allows me to be still even when the world and others are in haste.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment

looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first

 

 

Be Still in Haste

Wendell Berry is one of my favourite poets. He writes with such clarity and practical appreciation for the world. Even in clarity, the world remains ambiguous and fuzzy.

I read the last stanza of this poem as an example of the paradox and tension we try to hold. Perhaps, as much as I would like it to be different, time is always starting over in each moment. Each moments holds the eternity of time to paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, yet I do not sense that unless I pause and notice time is passing me by.

Unless I pause, time passes me by and, yet, I cannot hold time still. It is inevitable it will start afresh in the next moment. In these pauses, I encounter the world and living as creative processes which I experience more fully when I am awake.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed,  and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

 

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