SECOND LIFE Poem by David Whyte
My uncourageous life doesn't want to go, doesn't want to speak, doesn't want to carry on, wants to make its way through stealth, wants to assume the strange and dubious honor of not being heard. My uncourageous life doesn't want to move, doesn't even want to stir, wants to inhabit a difficult form of stillness, to pull everything into the silence where the throat strains but gives no voice. My uncourageous life wants to stop the whole world and keep it stopped not only for itself but for everyone and everything it knows, refusing to stir a single inch until given an exact and final destination. This uncourageous second life wants to win some undeserved lottery so that it can finally bestow a just and final reward upon itself. No, this second life never wants to write or speak, or cook or set the table or welcome guests or sit up talking with a stranger who might accidently set us travelling again. This second life doesn't want to leave the door, doesn't want to take any path that works its own sweet way through mountains, doesn't want to follow the beckoning flow of a distant river nor meet the chance weather where a pass takes us from one discovered world to another. This second life just wants to lie down; close its eyes and tell God it has a headache. But my other life my first life, the life I admire and want to follow looks on and listens with some wonder, and even extends a reassuring hand for the one holding back, knowing there can be no real confrontation without the need to turn away and go back away from it all, to have things be different, and to close our eyes until they are different. No, this hidden life, this first courageous life, seems to speak from silence and in the language of a knowing, beautiful heartbreak, above all it seems to know well enough it will have to give back everything received in any form and even, sometimes, as it tells the story of the way ahead, laughs out loud in the knowledge. This first life seems sure and steadfast in knowing it will come across the help it needs at every crucial place and thus continually sharpens my sense of impending revelation. This first courageous life in fact, has already gone ahead has nowhere to go except out the door into the clear air of morning taking me with it, nothing to do except to breathe while it can, no way to travel but with that familiar pilgrim movement in the body, nothing to teach except to show me on the long road how we sometimes like to walk alone, open to the silent revelation, and then stop and gather and share everything as dark comes in, telling the story of a day's accidental beauty. And perhaps most intriguingly and most poignantly and most fearfully of all and at the very end of the long road it has travelled, it wants to take me to a high place from which to see, with a view looking back on the way we took to get there, so it can have me
understand myself as witness and thus bequeath me the way ahead, so it can teach me how to invent my own disappearance so it can lie down at the end and show me, even against my will, how to undo myself, how to surpass myself: how to find a way to die of generosity.