Untitled, by David White

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others.

I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need to change you. 

If you can look back with firm eye,
saying this is where I stand. 

I want to know if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat. 

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God. 

Untitled, by David White

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.

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."


—Dawna Markova

Why Belong to the NO GOOD DEED Club?

For all of us, some day it will come to an end.
No more minutes, hours, or days.
All the things we collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Wealth, fame, and temporal power will disappear.
It will not matter what we owned or what we were owed.
Grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will disappear.
So too hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
Wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where we came from or what side of the tracks we lived on.
It won't matter whether we were beautiful or brilliant.
So what will matter? 

Not what we bought, but what we built. Not what we got, but what we gave.
Not our success, but our significance.
Not what we learned, but what we taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, or courage, that enriched, comforted, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate our example.
What will matter is not our competence, but our character.
Not how many people we knew, but how they felt when they knew us.
Not our memories, but the memories that live in those who love us.
What will matter is how we will be remembered, by whom, and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.

WE ARE NOT HUMAN BEINGS GOING THROUGH A TEMPORARY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. 

WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS GOING THROUGH A TEMPORARY HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

What Matters, by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies
will disappear.
So too hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important
will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or
what side of the tracks you lived on.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built. Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned, 
but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, 
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, 
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, 
by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance, but of choice.

To be of use, by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The striving for such an achievement is in itself part of the liberation and foundation for inner security.”

—Albert Einstein

The Man In the Arena, by Theodore Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The Low Road, by Marge Piercy

What can they do to you?
Whatever they want..

They can set you up, bust you,
they can break your fingers,
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember.
they can take away your children,
wall up your lover;
they can do anything you can’t stop them doing.

How can you stop them?
Alone you can fight, you can refuse.
You can take whatever revenge you can
But they roll right over you.
But two people fighting back to back
can cut through a mob
a snake-dancing fire
can break a cordon,
termites can bring down a mansion

Two people can keep each other sane
can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.

Three people are a delegation
a cell, a wedge.
With four you can play games
and start a collective.
With six you can rent a whole house
have pie for dinner with no seconds
and make your own music.

 Thirteen makes a circle,
a hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity
and your own newsletter;
ten thousand community
and your own papers;
a hundred thousand,
a network of communities;
a million our own world.

It goes one at a time.
It starts when you care to act.
It starts when you do it again
after they say no.
It starts when you say we
and know who you mean;
and each day you mean
one more.

Santiago, Pilgrim by David Whyte

The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” 

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came in the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm fast and deep and wide,
Through which was blowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fears for him,
But he stopped when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man”, said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day.
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm deep and wide – 
Why build this bridge at evening-tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head,
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, which has been as not for me,
To that fair-haired youth might a pitfall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.