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The Journey

This poem moves me because it speaks to that moment, that day, when we know – it is time – it is our time – to change – to transform. It speaks to that moment when we make the shift of living from heart and walking through an unseen wall into what our future is calling us to do.

“The whole house began to tremble” – so many parts of us object – feel afraid – tell us that we can’t do it. Yet the poem goes on to reassure: “you knew what you had to do” and you didn’t stop. Everything hangs on taking the first step..it is not enough to know; we must begin.

It is written in many places, including my own writings, that to journey into a ‘new’ life, we must leave behind our outworn ways of being in the world. Often we hold dear to these ways and parting with them can be difficult and painful. But it is necessary: there can be no new life without a death of some kind. In leaving the past behind, we walk through our fear of the unknown…perhaps a fear of success or achievement. And we walk more deeply into life – not away from it.

This poem speaks to our journey of eating mindfully one step following another – of finding our voice and our determination, courage and strength – to save our own lives, the only life we can ever change.

And it speaks to the birth of a new self, not one shaped by conditioning of the past. Our new voice is authentic with a flavor all our own, tasting of truth, sacredness and beauty.

How does this poem, The Journey, impact you? Are you being asked to transform – or are you feeling validated and encouraged in your transformation? What are you being asked to leave behind? What is your experience?

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

©Mary Oliver, The Journey, Dream Work

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