Coach’s Challenge for 5/25/09

Good morning, team,

Each April, I try to offer a poem as one of the weekly coach’s challenges, because April is poetry month. This year, I decided  to wait until the end of May to offer you something from Walt Whitman as part of your challenge. This coming weekend is the anniversary of his birth, so the timing seemed appropriate.

Whitman, as most of us know, was one of America’s finest poets. He was born on May 31, 1819, and lived a fulfilling and challenging life for the next 80 years. We know his poetry, but many people are not aware that Walt Whitman traveled hundreds of miles on foot, state to state, visiting wounded soldiers in make-shift camps during the Civil War. He sat with these soldiers, held their hands, prayed with them, spoke to them in poetic terms and then walked to the next set of tents that had been hastily erected on a blood-soaked hillside to console and love yet another group of soldiers.

I have always felt that Walt Whitman was a patron saint for me. We share the same birthdate. As a child, I saw a picture of him in a book of my grandfather’s. There he stood, with his long white beard, in a cock-eyed hat and well-worn vest, looking straight into the camera with a curious look. I liked him instantly and asked him silently if we could be friends. He responded with a whole-hearted, “Yes!” and we’ve been buddies ever since.

When I was little and something really frightened  me, I would imagine myself lying in a field of wildflowers and high grass with Walt, my head resting on his chest. I could feel bits of his beard tickle the top of my head as we looked into the high blue sky, the bright sun warming our faces, chatting about the day and how fine everything was. This always made me feel better and, I must confess, I still call upon him as an adult when anxiety tries to overcome me. His poetry inspires and settles me at the same time.

Here is a poem from Walt that I want to share with you for this challenge.

“Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me,
Whispering I love you, before long I die,
I have travel’d a long way merely to look on you to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look’d on you,
For I fear I might afterward lose you.

Now we have met, we have look’d, we are safe,
Return in peace to the ocean my love,
I too am part of that ocean my love, we are not so much separated,
Behold the great rondure, the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour carrying us diverse, yet cannot carry us diverse forever;
Be not impatient – a little space – know you I salute the air, the
ocean and the land,
Every day at sundown for your dear sake my love.”

Your challenge this week is to find that poem, that author, that essay that gives you a moment of peace and freedom. Find the words that offer you a break from the daily grind. Build it into your week, your month, your year. Like coming up for air, allow yourself an opportunity to surface above the weight of your daily responsibilities and take a breath. Rest for a moment in that place of tranquil joy. Find the word that inspires you and allows you to see things from a different perspective. Take a few moments just for yourself.

Have a good week,

Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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