Surviving Ourselves (This is the Work – Vol. 1, No. 4)

Here are few things I’m sharing this month:

1. An old Blog:

  • A reminder that the most important thing on Thanksgiving is being together, not pursuing Rockwellian (and fanciful) perfection: I Blamed Norman Rockwell

2. Question I’m living with:

  • “Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?” – Mary Oliver (from her poem “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”)

3. Quote(s) I’m considering:

  • “You guys aren’t ready; you aren’t ready for this. You don’t know how to survive yourselves. Black people, we’re the only ones that know how to survive this…You need us. You need our eyes to save you from yourselves.”  – Dave Chapelle (SNL Monologue 11/7/20)

At the time of Chapelle’s monologue, I was reading “Jesus and Disinherited” by Howard Thurman (1949). It is rumored that Dr. Martin Luther King kept a copy of this text with him at all times. In the foreword, Vincent Harding says: 

  • “For the spirituality that emerged and focused itself in Jesus and the Disinherited carried an insistent message that life under oppression provided no excuses for avoiding a path of courageous, creative integrity. As a matter of fact, while Thurman wrote with great compassion about the difficulties faced by the marginalized people whose lives were constantly besieged by the threatening, destructive power of the dominating forces, still this deeply loving and caring pastor of the dispossessed would not back away from the demands of a life of integrity, a life that refuses to give into “fear, hypocrisy and hatred…” 

I think this is what Chapelle was talking about. I think. But, I have more to learn. 

4. Poem I’m pondering:

Let’s remake the world with words.

Not frivolously, nor

To hide from what we fear,

But with a purpose.


As Wordworth said, remove

“The dust of custom” so things

Shine again, each object arrayed

In its robe of original light.

And then we’ll see the world

As if for the first time,

As once we gazed at the beloved

Who was gazing at us.

“Let’s Remake the World with Words” by George Orr

5. Something inspiring:

  • The Long Now Foundation is building a clock that is designed to tick for 10,000 years in an effort to “foster long-term thinking in the context of the next 10,000 years.” Awesome!
  • Listening to the Tallest Man on Earth sing “It will Follow the Rain” 

If you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues here and subscribe here.

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