Telling the Inside Out

The words are air. I didn’t know I needed them like I do. Gulping breaths. Into mind and heart. Space too full. Noise. Noise. Noise.

The noise of a mind unsettled. The noise of hopping around—thinking that completing one task and then another will do the settling. But all that happens is discontentedness. I am not present for….what?

So many things.

Blooming Magnolia tree, small bud

Be attentive to what is happening in you, not just around you. But yes, be attentive to what is happening around you and how that affects what is in you.

Honor your mind. Honor your heart. Honor the holiness of this day by being attentive. Eyes and ears. Breath. These fingers, these hands.

I read an article. An entire article. But I do it while standing in the kitchen, leaning over the counter like I do.

I seldom sit—so often I am caught between one thought and another, one task and another. I resist being caught up in one activity, choosing, rather, to do many things at once, in a stop-and-start fashion. Not exactly frenetic.

But.

I am not at peace.

For I am not really even here.

The article is actually an excerpt from a book: The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith, and Meaning, by Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko. Except, when I read the article I don’t know it is an excerpt from this longer work, and I don’t even care. I am stuck on these lines about love and attentiveness and empathy and intimacy and art:

“Loving someone for the sake of their own soul requires the ability to see someone’s life from the inside and to empathize with the particular ways they are pursuing eudaimonia. It requires getting access to inner worlds. But it is admittedly difficult and rare to find a friend, a child, or a romantic partner who is both willing and able to bare their soul. Most of us develop such relationships over long periods of time. Until the real thing comes along, one way we get practice occupying the detailed inner lives of others is through literature and art. Excellent stories describe action “from the inside out.”

“Excellent stories describe action from “the inside out." I want to live inside out. I want to tell those inside out stories—with my words, yes, but mainly with how I choose to live.

Access to the inner world of the self—one’s self—and well as the self of others, requires more than self-awareness. It requires an opening up of the heart. What am I thinking and feeling? What is my friend thinking and feeling? How can I even trust my thoughts, my emotions, without a commitment to letting them settle, have a seat in the room?

Heart, speak. I am listening. Eyes, see. I am waiting. Ears, hear. I am ready.

I want to be stirred, choose to be stirred--have every action I make be one in line with attentiveness. This postures gives honor to my life. It grants it respect. It points to life of holy ground.

Breathe.

With my life I want to differentiate between (1) the act of truly loving another person—even loving one’s self—and (2) the mere shallow desire of just trying to please (please him, please her, please me).

The truth is that the self will never be pleased until one’s grip of trying to please—is surrendered, let go.

Surrender. Surrender. Expect. Breathe. Receive.

View of Bay Area from Stanford Dish hike, California

And so, as one tiny movement toward connecting heart and mind—and mind and heart—toward fostering attentiveness, I am inviting you to join me in writing poetry.

Not as a means to an end. Not as a task to complete or a goal to achieve. But as dual community. First, the community we find in the intersection of mind and heart. And then, the community of dear friends (like you), too.

Loop Poetry Project is made up of a group of women who write poetry to see their lives from “the inside out.” How do we know what we are really thinking or feeling unless we help our mind listen to our heart? Poetry is an active listening, an investigation of the deeper secrets of the soul, a discovery of understanding. It is an unearthing of truth. It is an honoring of the self, an honoring of you.

Will you join us? Learn more by clicking here. And click here for a new poem. And, if you’d like to jump on in….will you consider writing a few lines on what it means for you to live “inside out”? Share them below, as a comment, or with the Loop Poetry Project community. I can’t wait to read your beautiful words.

Love,

This post appeared originally at jennifer.camp