This holiday season we are bidding farewell to 2020 and welcoming 2021 with a series we are calling The Conversation. A collection of brief but meaningful insights and reflections, curated and shared by members of the Domain7 Team, centring on themes that help us reflect on a tumultuous year and move forward into the future. We are exploring change, resilience, community, transformation, and grounded hope.
Today’s host is Zach Bulick, Engagement Strategist at Domain7. Just a note that we are, like many of you, working largely from home and that these recordings may have a homemade flavour. We hope you enjoy joining us in our work and neighbourhood environments for a little audio visit. Here’s Zach.
Hello and happy holidays. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from the book Consolations by the poet, David Whyte. In Consolations, Whyte explorers the underlying meaning of the everyday words that make up our lives. I was introduced to his work by a friend when looking to add more poetry into my life and it has since become a constant companion.
Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question of ourselves, of our world or of one another often in fiercely difficult and unbeautiful moments. Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss, or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavour. When longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we had shaped for it.
Solace is the spacious imaginative home we make where disappointment goes to be welcomed and rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation. Solace is found in allowing the body’s innate foundational wisdom to come to the fore. A part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take its leave like everything else and leads us when the mind cannot bear what it is seeing or hearing to the birdsong in the trees above our heads, even as are being told of a death. Each note, an essence of mourning and of morning, of the current of a life moving on.
But somehow, also, and most beautifully caring, bearing, and even celebrating the life we have just lost. A life we could not see or appreciate until it was taken from us. To be consoled is to be invited onto the terrible ground of beauty upon which our inevitable disappearance stands to a voice that does not soothe falsely, but touches the epicenter of our pain or articulates the essence of our loss and then emancipates us into the privilege of both life and death as an equal birthright.
Solace is not an evasion nor a cure for our suffering, nor a made-up state of mind. Solace is direct seeing and participation, a celebration of the beautiful coming and going, appearance and disappearance of which we have always been a part. Solace is not meant to be an answer, but an invitation through the door of pain and difficulty to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.
To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions. Questions that reach our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss, but not overwhelmed by it. We become useful and generous and compassionate and even more amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable loss that will accompany you, and how will you endure it through the years? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to, and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you were beginning to understand it, take you away?”
I chose this particular piece because even throughout a fairly unbeautiful year, I would hope that I would lean into asking the beautiful questions, even amidst the grief, the loss, and the tiny deaths that we experience every day.
One question I’d leave us with in closing is, what is the beautiful question that you are asking today?
I’m Zach Bulick with Domain7. Thanks for listening.
Zach read an excerpt from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte, published by Many Rivers Press in 2016. We encourage you to check out this book and follow more of Whyte’s work. You can find his social channels at davidwhyte.com.
“The Conversation” is a special edition of Domain7’s podcast, Change is in the Making. Our audio producer is Kurt Wilkinson and our designer is Ryan Martinez. Music provided by James Boraas, leadership and editorial support provided by Sarah Butterworth, Kevan Gilbert, and myself, Veronica Collins. Please tune in each weekday for the first half of December to hear more from our team on moving from 2020 into 2021 with hope and purpose, or visit us at domain7.com for more ideas, resources and podcasts. Happy holidays.