IF - Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Under the Influence
Surround me with the wiser elder
And the eager younger -
Let's conjure up a plan
Bead a talisman,
Guiding those of the middle ages,
To acknowledge their folly:
They too much eat and deplete
Gaia's globe of resources -
Yet, in triumphant marches
With perfumed painted Goth faces,
Ringing bells and pontificating profits
With hollow bellowings of busi-ness;
And their Hunger Games of Look at ME!
They fundraise. Decorate. Annihilate.
Build FREEways and geoEngineer the stratosphere,
Provoking Providence, consecrating in-fame;
Inmates of their human over-doings.
Development? Or devices of deception?
Pro-gress is oft sacrilegious re-gress.
They pollute the air, then declare:
No cancers reign from up here!
I savoured the freedom and stolen time of my Saturday afternoons. My children were safe with their father and would return after supper. Elated, I strode purposefully towards downtown.
The matinee had become a priority. Always, after a movie, I felt catapulted into a sense of rapturous joy, akin to the unio mystica described by contemplatives.
It was an autumn Saturday, and dusk advanced as I exited the cinema. Ever seeking an extra walk, I headed to the grocery store to purchase fresh ingredients for preparing dinner.
I retraced my steps toward home, keenly aware of the desolation of this part of downtown.
A bag of groceries suspended from one hand, I hurried past a young woman bending over a large curbside garbage can, rummaging through the wrappings of half-eaten fast food. Within seconds, my conscience nagged: I had promised myself I would offer a meal to persons in need in exchange for their story. I had even fantasized about publishing a collection of these stories.
It was getting darker though, and my safety might be at risk.
I found myself stopped and struggling with my free hand to unfasten the tiny pocket at the front of my small pouch strung across the front of my body. I recalled a 2 dollar coin nestled there.
Compelled to look down to guide my groping hand: my gaze fell upon a 10 dollar bill lying at my feet, on the damp pavement.
In one surreal, taoist sequence of movement, I picked up the crisp bill, turned around and approached the woman with the money in my outstretched hand.
“How are you feeling today?” I heard myself ask.
Our eyes locked fleetingly - I felt at one with her haunting suffering; overflowing compassion coursed through me.
Her beauty was merely smudged by her glazed sunken eyes, blotchy complexion and disheveled hair.
“ I am cold,” said the child-woman.
I offered the ten dollars to her.
“ Buy yourself something to eat.”
“ Thank you. You are very kind,” the woman replied softly.
For a long time, this experience remained suspect and captive in my memory.
Unlike hallucinations however, the intense feelings of it's recollection endured - always accompanied by teary eyes and generalized goosebumps.
Finally: it's written down and freed - to reaffirm the holograph of human awe.