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Being a Human Bridge

I’m reading Mark Nepo’s The Exquisite Risk: Daring To Live An Authentic Life, and I’ve come to the chapter entitled “You Must Reverse the Haiku.”  Here’s Nepo, explaining.

In the 1600s, the Japanese master Basho spoke profoundly to his student Kikakou:

“We shouldn’t abuse God’s creatures.

You must reverse your haiku, not:

a dragonfly;
remove its wings—
pepper tree.
but:

a pepper tree;
add wings to it—
dragonfly.”

The destruction or healing of the world hinges on how this thought unfolds.  Whether we pull things apart or put things together makes all the difference.  Indeed, Basho’s small instruction reveals how human history has unfolded, with one pilgrim taking things apart and another putting them back together, and on and on.  As Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied, “I believe what the self-centered have torn down, the other-centered will build up.”

“So, the question each day becomes: When pressed by life, do I bridge or isolate?  Do I reconnect the web of life and listen to its wisdom?  Or do I make an island of every confusion as I try to solve its pain?”

We are taught as children to take things apart, to see how they tick, to solve problems.  But in the realm of spirit, we might have to “let things in, rather than break things down.”

How do we care for this bridge between us and others?  How do we become a human bridge—an instrument of repair, not damage?

We lie down, so others can join hands and “see” they are one—that we’re all together on this journey called life.

Kent Keith speaks to this simple calling in his poem “Anyway”:

If you are kind, people
may accuse you of selfish,
ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway…

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway…

The good you do today, people will
Often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

It’s a Catch-22.  By being a bridge, you may get torn down as a result (not everyone knows how to be a bridge!), but you will also gain the strength others have to offer you.  “Each of us is a stitch that keeps the fabric underneath everything whole.”

We can be the “bridge between confusions, and we all have the chance to be brought out of our confusion by the bridge of another’s love.”

Will you join me in being a human bridge today?

A side note.  Can you believe it?  There are now TEN Living the Questions podcasts available, for your hearing pleasure.  I’ve listed them below, so you access them directly.  About six to seven minutes long, the podcasts are chockfull of personal anecdotes and other illustrations that seek to answer a very fundamental life-changing question.  Enjoy!  [If you’d rather subscribe in iTunes, be my guest.  When you go to iTunes, you’ll see the last three podcasts, but know that when you sign up, you should receive all ten!]

Episode 1: Seeing Things Differently
Episode 2: Changing Your Mind
Episode 3: Are People Inherently Good or Bad?
Episode 4: Are You Trustworthy?
Episode 5: When Do You Feel Most Alive?
Episode 6: Are You Average or Exceptional?
Episode 7: What Is Your Wound?
Episode 8: Whom Do You Love?
Episode 9: What Takes Your Breath Away?
Episode 10: Why Do You Speak To Yourself That Way?

[Post image: Central Park NYC by createsima on stock.xchng]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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