Waiting to Go On

July 2, 2013

David WhyteThis morning I woke up and went for a run with my wife Chris. When I sat down and dusted off the piles of mail and musings on my unkempt desk (enjoying the beginnings of summer), I saw this poem that could only have found its way to my desk by my lovely wife. It is from a favorite poet and philosopher that both Chris and I enjoy, David Whyte. I felt an urge to share it with you.

Waiting to Go On

I lay a handful of walnuts

to dry by the fire,

pile six new apples in a bowl

and wiping the cutting boards

to a woody gleam, clear off

the fine needles and nubby stalks

that fell from mushrooms

I found in the morning,

walking the woods…

I drop potatoes into

soft, simmering water then

lower the oven to a thicking heat

and turning to the beautiful stark

inviting coldness of the hearth,

set down

in the fireplace torn paper

and pine cones,

kindling and logs

and kneeling coax small flames

to life,

sweeping the hearth

of dust

and ash,

and still kneeling

next to the fire

just beginning

to snap,

I listen behind me

to the slow tick

of the oven expanding,

to a different time,

another measure,

its black heated interior

braising lamb I saw raised

in the fields that spread below

my upstairs window.

Beneath that window, resting

on paper

in the shadows of my desk,

in the laptop’s subdued

pulsing glow,

half-finished poems

wait at the frontier between

being written and being done.

Beside them

a gleaming violin

sits cradled in it stand,

the music book


to an ancient,

rhythmic, hard to get,


All this continual practice,

this sharpening

and attentive presence,


this daily fetching and gathering

this constant maturing

and getting ready,

all this slowly

being heated through,

brought to a simmer,

being educated, knowledgeable,

learning through experience,

all this work to have

one complete day

lived just as it should be


all this constant testing

by the world

to see if we are done,

ready, cooked through,

ripe enough to fall,

to be lifted, bitten right into

and consumed ourselves

and then, for everyone

all the

hours of daily

practice just learning to hit

the note,

the conversational note,

the musical note

just right,

wanting it live

with all the other notes.

It must be we are waiting

for the perfect moment.

It must be

under the struggle

we want to go on.

It must be, deep


we are creatures

getting ready

for when we are needed.

It must be that waiting

for the listening ear

of the appreciative word,

for the right

woman or the right man

or the right moment

just to ourselves.

we are getting ready

just to be ready

and nothing else.

Like this moment

just before the guests arrive


alone in the kitchen

sensing a deep

down symmetry

in every blessed thing.

The way

that everything


to us

is preparing to meet us too.

Just on the other

side of the door


is about to


and our life

is just

about to change.

and finally

after all these

years rehearsing,


the curtain,

we might

just be


to go on.

Related Posts (David Whyte)

Revelation Must Be Terrible

Chasing the Shadow

Who’s Path Are You On?

Reach your next peak

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