David Whyte

David
Whyte
1955

English Poet

Author Quotes

One of the great difficulties as you rise up through an organization is that your prior competencies are exploded and broken apart by the territory you've been promoted into: the field of human identity.

Regret is a short, evocative and achingly beautiful word: an elegy to lost possibilities even in its brief annunciation.

The antidote to exhaustion isn't rest. It's wholeheartedness.

The severest test of work today is not of our strategies but of our imaginations and identities. For a human being, finding good work and doing good work is one of the ultimate ways of making a break for freedom. In order to find that freedom in the midst of the complex world of work, we need to cultivate simpler, more elemental identities truer to the template of our own natures.

To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.

We learn, grow and become compassionate and generous as much through exile as homecoming, as much through loss as gain, as much through giving things away as in receiving what we believe to be our due.

All of our great traditions, religious, contemplative and artistic, say that you must a learn how to be alone - and have a relationship with silence. It is difficult, but it can start with just the tiniest quiet moment.

Desire demands only a constant attention to the unknown gravitational field which surrounds us and from which we can recharge ourselves every moment, as if breathing from the atmosphere of possibility itself. A life?s work is not a series of stepping-stones onto which we calmly place our feet, but more like an ocean crossing where there is no path, only a heading, a direction, which, of itself, is in conversation with the elements.

Honesty lies in understanding our close and necessary relationship with not wanting to hear the truth.

Lion sounds that have not grown from the mouse may exude naked power... but cannot convey any wisdom or understanding... The initial steps on the path to courageous speech then are the first tentative steps into the parts of us that cannot speak.

One small thing I've learned these years, how to be alone, and at the edge of aloneness how to be found by the world.

Silence is frightening, an intimation of the end, the graveyard of fixed identities. Real silence puts any present understanding to shame; orphans us from certainty; leads us beyond the well-known and accepted reality and confronts us with the unknown and previously unacceptable conversation about to break in upon our lives.

The courageous conversation is the one you don't want to have.

The soul of an individual is the longing inside each person for a greater sense of belonging, for a new country. We go through most workdays forgetting that this grand migratory force exists within us. We may feel a small satisfaction in a step taken, while the soul feels as if it is anchored off the promised land, with just a short row to bring it home. At the level of our souls, no matter the difficulty in our work, or the responsibilities, or the possibility of failure, entire new worlds are coming into being.

To forgive is to put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us. We reimagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we reimagine the past in the light of our new identity, we allow ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and left us bereft.

We name mostly in order to control but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling. In many ways love has already named us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened to us or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.

Almost all of our traditions of instruction in prayer, meditation or silence, be they Catholic, Buddhist or Muslim advocate seclusion or withdrawal as a first step in creating this equanimity.

Each of us has an equivalent core in our work, whether it is the path of the artist or the explorations of the engineer. Even if we already possess the work of our dreams, there is a way of doing that work that will deepen and enliven it, a way that begs for a daily disciplined conversation.

I believe that human beings are desperate, always, to belong to something larger than themselves.

Longing has its own secret, future destination, and its own seasonal emergence from within, a ripening from the core, a seed growing in our own bodies; it is as if we are put into relationship with an enormous distance inside us leading back to some unknown origin with its own secret timing indifferent to our wills, and gifted at the same time with an intimate sense of proximity, to a lover, to a future, to a transformation, to a life we want for ourselves, and to the beauty of the sky and the ground that surrounds us.

Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability? Anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.

Silence is like a cradle holding our endeavors and our will; a silent spaciousness sustains us in our work and at the same time connects us to larger worlds that, in the busyness of our daily struggle to achieve, we have not yet investigated. Silence is the soul's break for freedom.

The death of anyone close to us is always a form of salutation, a simultaneous good-bye to their physical presence and a deep hello to a more intimate imaginal relationship now beginning to form in their absence.

The true signature and perhaps even the miracle of human love is helplessness, and all the more miraculous because it is a helplessness which we wittingly or unwittingly choose; in our love of a child, a partner, a work, or a road we have to take against the odds.

To have a firm persuasion in our work -- to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time ? is one of the great triumphs of human existence... To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task... Work, at its best, is one of the great human gateways to the eternal and the timeless.

Author Picture
First Name
David
Last Name
Whyte
Birth Date
1955
Bio

English Poet