In Summary…Staying Open

This past week in blogging and posting I highlighted what I’ve been doing this entire past month, that is, intentionally staying open – reading every thing I can get my hands on, listening and learning, sifting through, speaking up and writing it down.

The word of this week (and actually this whole time) has been Enséñame. A prayer from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés meaning ‘Show me. Teach me.’ You can read my short blog about it here.

The poem of the week was Rumi’s Chickpea to Cook and I shared it on my Facebook page. I posted this:

One of my favorite all-time poems is Chickpea to Cook. I honestly think of it every time I open a can of chickpeas which actually is quite often – hummus, salad, soup – I’m a big fan.

What I love about it (the poem, not the pea) is its reminder to stay open – open to life’s lessons, open to the feeling of being boiled, open to the time it takes to marinate with experiences that make me a whole, vital, tasty human being.

I sort of enjoy being boiled. I know in the end it’s going to open up something new and more expansive in me. So I sometimes find myself jumping into the pot (not always, but sometimes) to mix it up with some new and foreign idea or to feel the heat of discomfort in seeing something I haven’t allowed myself to witness before.

Always learning. Always adding more flavor. Always asking for the next layer of clarity. Then turn around and feed someone, yes?

Chickpea to Cook
by Rumi – Translated by Coleman Barks

A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it’s being boiled.

‘Why are you doing this to me?’

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

‘Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you.
I’m giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.’

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea will say to the cook,
‘Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can’t do this by myself.

I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention
to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking.’

The cook says,
‘I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher.’

Art of the week was a piece I just got back from a friend – an Aditi I made in days gone by and now hangs in my writing space. An image of it swirling around can be found here on my Instagram page.

Music of the week – Justin Peter Kinkel Schuster. His sweet sweet voice and poetic lyrics were powerful for me. Written below is what I shared on Facebook:

Music has resurfaced for me in these past months. My usually dead-quiet house now has some tuneage blasting (which is why I may not hear you knock or call or ring the doorbell. Please try again.)

This week – Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster from the Water Liars. On a whim we went to One Lucky Guitar‘s B-side a couple of months ago and heard him play. Such good medicine. His voice has this beautiful casual tone. And his lyrics just wind right in at a quiet, peaceful lilt.

My all-time favorite line from his entire set list came from his song, Shorthand Mythology:

“But I never meant to bore you By living quietly.”

I audibly gasped when those words hit my ears. And I didn’t hear the rest of the song because my heart was recovering. Apparently I have some soul-searching work to do about my quiet life…or something. I still listen to that song a little cautiously, wondering what it might show me.

So give him a listen and stay open to what his stories may show you. Shorthand Mythology is linked below. Also try Half Broke – the lyrics are simply poetry. And then The Dirt, the Bells and I – add a sad fiddle and a few pints and you could be listening to this in your favorite Irish pub. And hunt him down to see him live and in person if he passes through your neck of the woods, either alone with his living room tour or with his band Water Liars.

Website of the week, Daily Good. I shared this on Facebook:

Collective Wisdom. I read this list of the Five Conditions Necessary for the Emergence of Collective Wisdom way back in April of 2015 and promptly printed it out to have at my fingertips as a repeated reference. (Every now and then I still like to have real hard-copy paper at my fingertips in this digital age.)

We’re in such a moment of self-righteousness – duality – one side against the other. This idea of collective + wisdom feels sort of far fetched, i.e. that the various collectives of which we belong (friends, neighborhoods, political parties, families, humanity, etc.) could actually come together seeking joint wisdom.

So there’s a lot to ponder in this list of to-dos, but the things that jump out at me as gentle reminders of what’s really really needed are:

Deep Listening – not just listening and nodding and waiting for your turn to speak, but DEEP listening. The kind where it’s ok if you never get a word in edgewise and where your sole intent is to hold the intention that the other person can come into their own highest being. Yeah. It’s super hard.

Suspend Certainty – even harder in my opinion. At least the directives say to do this only ‘for a period of time’. Not forever. Just for a little while so you can do Number 1 above.

See Whole Systems – which to me means recognizing that we ALL have a place in the grand scheme of things – a piece of the puzzle. You know when you do that 1000-piecer and get to the end only to see that you’re missing a few pieces. Pisses you off, doesn’t it? So yeah, we’re all in the image being created – we all fit together – and leaving people out just makes it all seem ‘off’. (Not 100% sure that analogy totally works, but hey…)

Gather for Group Emergence – a few key phrases like “allow disturbances…they lead to greater discernment” and “maintain human decency” and “practice restraint”. More hard stuff.

And last, Trust in the Extraordinary – try – just try (maybe for that period of time in the Suspending Certainty section above) – to believe that something new can arise that is beyond your current understanding right now.

So there you go. There’s so much more in there…it’s meaty. If this grabs you, maybe give it a look and see why I’ve had to read and reread it for the last 18 months. Little snippets at a time. Practice. Retreat. Give it another whirl. Let it get buried in my stack of printed-out references. Find it again and start it all over. Maybe this time?

And last, sometimes when I stay open to learning, I discover that I’m wrong. And other times I realize that I am that voice that may help others assess their misperceptions and see another perspective. Thus, the video of the week was this Ted talk from Kathryn Schultz and what I posted is below:

What a nerve this hit for me today! With my focus on Staying Open her words of:

“Trusting too much in the feeling of being on the correct side of anything can be very dangerous…that internal sense of rightness that we all experience so often is not a reliable guide to what is really going on in the external world.”

She is a ‘Wrongologist’. Which proves you can make a career out of just about anything, right? She’s gotten far more comfortable with the idea of being wrong – being human – than I have.

“Step outside of that tiny terrified space of rightness, look around, look out. Be able to say, ‘Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.'”

Feels so pertinent to this last month. Two thumbs up to this one!!



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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

Master Teacher, Midwife to the Birth of the Wild Soul

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