I want to share a few of them with you.
1. Rick, my husband, was an English major in school with a religious studies minor, focused mostly on Tibetan Buddhism. He is a great thinker, writer and conversationalist. One of the many stories he told me about his studies was from one poetry class. He learned about a Chinese poet who wrote beautiful poems and threw them into a river. He didn't seek fame or notoriety as a great poet, he just wanted to write his poems and then free them into the world.
2. Walt Whitman
From Preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
3. Kurt Vonnegant's letter to high school students
Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:
I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don't make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.
What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow.
Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you're Count Dracula.
Here's an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don't do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don't tell anybody what you're doing. Don't show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what's inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
God Bless You All.
4. Project Yoga Richmond
I have been attending yoga at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this summer and it has changed my life. The people involved in making this happen in Richmond are inspiring. Yoga has finally become to me what I think it must be for some many, a moving meditation.
Yoga has the power to heal individuals and in turn, whole communities. We believe yoga should be shared with everyone, so we work to make it accessible and affordable to all. We accomplish this through our donation-based studio classes, which help fund our outreach programs for under-served populations.
What is Yoga? Yoga is the science and art of stillness, movement and self-discovery. The word yoga is derived from the ancient Sanskrit yuj, or yoke. It is believed that through the practice of yoga we might find a ‘yoking’ or connection between energy, body, breath, and spirit, balancing each of these aspects of the self in the process. This connection gives rise to higher levels of awareness and ultimately, a deeper connection both within us and with the world around us.
5. Wade Davis and Trevor Frost
Trevor Frost is our friend and is a National Geographic Young Explorer and Photographer. He has worked with Wade Davis on conservation projects and continues to work toward these goals across the globe. He introduced me to the anthropologist, Wade Davis who studies endangered cultures and has given several TED talks about his work. I can't get these things he has shared out of my head. I am haunted by what is happening right now to people groups and knowledge of ways to be on this planet.
6. Tom Robbins-
I feel so kindred to him. I just do.
7. Mary Oliver- When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
8. How the Universe Works
Its on netflix. It has really helped me to understand that time and space are not what they seem to my human perception.
9. Cheryl Strayed- Wild
I found solace in her story and that was what I've needed.
10. Maya Angelou
I saw her speak when I was a senior in high school. I went to school in Winston Salem, NC for just one year and she was a professor at Wake Forest. She died and so did John. Her poem says it all.
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety. When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.