A poem that has always touched me, and to which I return often, is David Whyte‘s Self-Portrait. To me it speaks of the longing to live life courageously and passionately, and in a meaningful and connected way. I was not surprised (but I was pleased!) when I learned he had read this poem to a crowd of 3000 therapists at a recent Psychotherapy Networker conference (2010).
Self Portrait (from Fire in the Earth)
by David Whyte
It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
Or many gods.
I want to know if you belong — or feel abandoned;
If you know despair
Or can see it in others.
I want to know
If you are prepared to live in the world
With its harsh need to change you;
If you can look back with firm eyes
Saying “this is where I stand.”
I want to know if you know how to melt
Into that fierce heat of living
Falling toward the center of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing
To live day by day
With the consequence of love
And the bitter unwanted passion
Of your sure defeat.
I have been told
In that fierce embrace
Even the gods
Speak of God.