The first time I heard of David Whyte, I was actually hearing him.
It was October of 2000, and I was working for The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) as their PR/Promotions Director. We’d gone to Vancouver to exhibit/schmooze at the International Coach Federations annual conference – where Whyte was a keynote speaker.
A couple of colleagues and I were on booth duty in the exhibition hall when most of the attendees went into the ballroom to hear Whyte speak. Luckily, the ballroom doors were left open, so we wound up hearing most of the talk.
I’d never heard of him before, but I became a fan that day. Part of it was what he talked about (how the poetic imagination can help people get in touch with their true purpose) (how would i not love that, right?)…and part of it was the passionate way he expressed it…cause, y’know, he’s a poet. (and bonus: he’s irish, so there’s that accent…sigh.)
It’s hard to pick a favorite poem of his, but I’ll start with this simple, powerful invitation. (if you want a real treat, check out a few of his videos to hear him read his and other’s poetry. melt-city.) (here’s a short video that includes a brief conversation/introduction before he reads this poem below.) (there’s some chat at the beginning; skip to 1:39 to get right to the poem.)
Everything is Waiting for You
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.