May all our dreams lead us here.
Our grandparents told us the story of how long ago the leader of our town government, who was far from being a tyrant, had been elected because he was the best human being available. So the people put both the present and the future of our town in his hands, but in the long run he got more and more tired of everyone agreeing with him all the time, being waited on hand and foot by the loveliest beauty queens, and no one allowing him to lose at poker games. He was desperate to resign, but that was out of the question, and so the solitude of power was bound to kill him. Before he died, his exceptionally noble soul enacted the most loving, most beautiful laws ever heard of, for he had loved all that was good and beautiful in life. These are the decrees he left behind:
I ORDER that in this town nothing should ever be held to be more valuable than life itself, so that we can go hand in hand seeking truth.
I ORDER that every weekday be as bright and luminous as any Sunday.
I DECREE that every house be outfitted with flower boxes and that their windows should be kept open to catch the green songs of spring.
I DECREE that everyone free him – or herself of all lies and take off all masks of secrecy so that all can sit down together and talk of beauty and justice.
I DECREE that more attention be paid to Isaiah the prophet’s “The lamb and the lion will lie together” and that the food they share will have the fragrance of the dawn.
I ORDER that all bread be flavored with tenderness, that joy will be our town’s banner and love its only armament.
AND STARTING TODAY ALL MONEY WILL CARRY AN EXPIRATION DATE SO THAT NO ONE CAN ACCUMULATE IT TO BUY POWER AND DOMINION OVER OTHERS.
THERE WILL ONLY BE ONE ARISTOCRACY, THAT OF THE SPIRIT, AND ONLY ONE PRIVILEGE, THAT OF INTELLIGENT IMAGINATION.
Excerpt from the book, What Does It Mean To Be Human
Edited and compiled by Frederick Franck, Janis Roze & Richard Connolly
The unannounced blur of something passing out of a life.
~Naomi Shihab Nye
Where can the crying heart graze?
~Naomi Shihab Nye
I’ve stopped dreaming about the future, about what comes next. Concepts or catch phrases like ‘follow your bliss’ either give me a mild case of anxiety or threaten to depress me, if I dwell on them too long. I live in the now, and though I know that’s a Zen mentality many strive for, I do it out of necessity. It’s all I can manage. I can’t bear to look back on what my life once was any more than I can bear looking ahead to all the days yet to come.
None of this is to say that I don’t have joy and light in my life. I do. Sometimes the joy feels so big I have to look around inside myself for a place to put it all. That’s the upside to living in the now. Everything feels brighter and more dramatic, more real somehow. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes miss wondering what’s down the road. What my life might look like if I were free to imagine, to dream, to become and yes…to follow my bliss?
*The lines from Naomi Shihab Nye are from two of her poems: Blood and Breaking My Favorite Bowl.