Think swan

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I read poet David Whyte’s book ‘Crossing the unknown sea’ over the weekend. I didn’t want the book to end, so beautiful is his writing. His subject is the work that we choose to do.

He quotes a fellow poet, Rilke. I had read the poem, The Swan, many years ago as a student. Now it was presented to me in an entirely different way by Whyte as a metaphor for finding your real work. Rilke speaks of the swan as being rather awkward and ungainly on land, but when it lowers itself into into the water, its element, it glides easily and effortlessly.

Whyte discovered his true calling, as many of us do, by first making mistakes and ignoring the inner voice. What is clear from his story is that often the heart knows exactly what we should be doing. Deciding to follow the heart is the first step. Making yourself visible is the next bit. That takes considerable courage.

“If you want to meet a terrifying silence, tell the world you are going full-time as a poet” says Whyte.

Accepting the silence is part of the process of getting your feet wet. A necessary first waddle towards the water.

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