Becoming Alive (This is the Work, Vol. 2 No. 1)

Here are a few things I’m sharing this month:

1. New blogs:

  • As I’m stumbling to the coffee pot at 5:30 in the morning, I sometimes ask myself (in existential-exasperation) “Why?!” Here’s why: Gestation
  • When I was a kid, I stole two white pine trees from the up-the-street mini mall. I’m not sorry – Raised by Trees (make sure to scroll to the bottom of the blog)

2. New projects:

  • How to Change the World – a freely available, do-it-yourself, social-good-project-building-blueprint that’s comprehensive, chronologically ordered and accompanied by free tools, resources, and how-to-guides. It’s also a free online Course. Enrollment is open!
  • Halftime Speeches – a monthly email that’s full of encouraging quotes, speeches and more. I invite you to subscribe. Why? Because sometimes we all need a lightning bolt in the ass. (This project gives my non-contemplative side an outlet.)

2. Question I’m living with:

3. Quotes I’m considering:

Like many others, I was emotionally injured by the insurrection. That part of me is pondering this quote:

  • “If it wasn’t my job, I would have done that for free…It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection, and I’m glad I was in a position to be able to help. We’ll do it as many times as it takes.” – D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges (the officer in the viral video “being crushed against the door, crying out in pain and bleeding from the mouth“).

The better part of me is pondering this quote:

  • “Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants helps from us.” – Rilke (from Letter to a Young Poet, p. 52)

And, then there’s the part of me that’s trying to figure out how to help:

  • Moyers: “In this sense, unlike heroes such as Prometheus or Jesus, we’re not going on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves.”
  • Campbell: “But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there’s no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.” – Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell on p. 183 in The Power of Myth (one of the ten books that doubled the size of my universe).

4. Poem I’m pondering:

i am accused of tending to the past

as if I made it,

as if I sculpted it

with my own hands. i did not.

this past was waiting for me

when i came,

a monstrous unnamed baby,

and i with my mother’s itch

took it to breast

and named it


she is more human now,

leaning language everyday,

remembering faces, names and dates.

when she is strong enough to travel

on her own, beware, she will.

“i am accused of tending to the past” by Lucille Clifton in “How to Carry Water: Selected Poems

5. Something inspiring:

If you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues hereview lists of poems, questions, quotes and songs I’ve shared before here, and subscribe here.

Thanks so much. And, have a great day! – shawn