Dear friends, perhaps these last weeks (months? years?) have felt a little sprint-y for you, too – and even the happiest sprints can leave us breathless.
Let’s take in the air of this fresh new morning, with the help of John O’Donohue.
A Morning Offering
by John O’Donohue
I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
This blessing is included in one of my favorite volumes, O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us, which I turn to time and time again.
There’s a curious form of time-shifting that comes from returning to a place we once knew well. When I travelled to Japan a few weeks ago, I was delighted to hear once again the phrase, “ki o tsukete.”
Usually these words are translated as “take care,” but the literal translation is a little more magical, since “ki” means spirit. Multiple times each day, we are reminded, “Tend to your spirit.”
I was thinking of this as a uniquely Japanese concept, when on my way to work I noticed a patch of graffiti advising, “Protect Yo Heart.” Perhaps this is a universal sentiment after all – or could be.
Dear ones, let us venture forth, out into the world where our spirits and hearts can flourish.
Let us tend to them as we go.
I was lucky to hear Stuart Brand speak at the Santa Fe Institute this week, where participants discussed everything from the Aeneid to AI. Brand was noting that we often underestimate the importance of maintenance, at every scale.
We celebrate perseverance, more than prevention.
We prize creation, more than caretaking.
may we persist.
May we create.
May we tend.
Both without and within.
Back cover of the final Whole Earth Catalog.
Years ago, before all of the multi layered security and traffic restrictions, it was common to see someone off at the airport. There would be tearful hugs at the gate, joyful reunions as loved ones emerged from an arriving flight, and all of the more mundane hellos and goodbyes in-between. Whole plots of movies and books turned on the just-missed departure, or the drama of a final boarding call.
It’s been so long since this tradition has been able to be practiced in the United States that I’d almost forgotten about it. But on my outbound flight to Japan recently, the entire airline team from Logan lined up on the tarmac to wave farewell. Though I’d only met the check-in agents for a moment or two, it was such a touching sight that tears sprang to my eyes.
For the following week, every doorway I entered came with a warm personal greeting. Every departure I made included an expression of thanks and goodwill. Not once invisible. Not once unwelcome.
How lovely to be bidden farewell. How heartwarming to be greeted. How much we lose when these tiny rituals are deleted.
Dear ones, though the TSA might limit us, our arrivals and departures are worthy of notice.
Let us be welcome guests, wherever we may be.
Let us welcome others in return.
The financial world has lost a legend in the passing of Byron Wien, longtime strategist at Morgan Stanley and more recently Vice Chair at Blackstone Advisory Partners. For many years he had the courage to publish his signature “10 Surprises of the Coming Year” list, and even more courageously, at the end of each year he took account of his prior bets, publicly and objectively. As a young analyst, this kind of example from a senior practitioner had a tremendous influence on me – but these life lessons he shared later on in his carer have stuck with me even more.
May we all have teachers as generous as Byron, with wisdom as great as this to impart.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned in my first 80 years. I hope to continue to practice them in the next 80.