the life that is yours

Nayyirah Waheed is a poet who continues to remind me of what is important in this life.  She writes this poem in her Nejma collection:

‘do not choose the lesser life.  do you hear me. do you hear me.  choose the life that is.  yours.  the life that is seducing your lungs.  that is dripping down your chin.’

I’ve been thinking about this in our work lately.  Starting our work days with this mantra.  I mean, what is the life of each of ours that is ‘dripping down our chins’?  I always remember this poem during peach harvest season.  The peaches that, regardless of how properly you effort to eat them, leave juice dripping down your chin.  Maybe even embarrassingly so.  And joyfully, despite yourself or your consciousness of yourself.  What would it be to live that life?  The one that spills over publicly, breaks your attempts at propriety, and is present for all to see?  What does it mean for us to work in this way?

We on the team of The Guest House have been trained, disciplined, and worked into propriety and discipline.  The art of our fine-dining and policy and finance and culinary experience has been largely founded on control and performance.  These elements of our work have served and continue to serve us all well in the development of our respective crafts and trades.  And, the moments that we are living into on the land are also teaching us the magic and beauty of the moments of vulnerability and spilling over and unexpected abundance. 

Because the moment of ‘dripping down [our] chins’ are at the root: vulnerable and unexpected.  And full of joy. 

Here’s why this is important to our work: because we care about shaping something new.  Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.”  And I believe that part of the thinking that has us all in the place that we are is thinking that what is worthwhile work is work that maintains the accepted trajectory, work that is driven by the market demand, and work that keeps us in the accepted comfort zone.  The work, the life, that we choose that is not ‘the lesser life’ is the work that the parts of us which are hungry for life and desperate for the next question cannot resist.  This work has nothing, possibly, to do with the work for which we are paid. 

I’ve been living into practices that remind me each day of ‘the life that is seducing [my] lungs’.  Reminding me of what I’m actually hungry for with the land and in the community and with my own relationship to those things and people which are most important.  And my belief is that as I live into those things, that it can only contribute to the creation of work that holds the same space for others to live into their own dripping lives.  I hope our deepest acts of resistance to the space we find our culture in that we know are unsustainable, are the acts that insist on life and on a life that is ours and is irresistible and is overflowing.  And is dripping down our chins.


Opportunities coming up on the land for exploration of life:

Bowspring Immersion Weekend (lodging sold out, local tickets still available)

Wild Food Foraging

Hildegard’s Feast Day Weekend

seth o'donovan