Our Many, Our Whole

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My body, my land.

Containing all the stories

all the world in it,

but they are not all my own.

The whole is not simple,

vague or even pure.

We must never stop

listening to how this swirl

this totality morphs into the

particularities of me and

you, as we strive

and struggle to bring ourselves

to the whole with compassion

and understanding.

We are one, yes,

but it doesn’t end here;

we are still so incomplete

in our knowing,

if not our being.

May we always

listen

honour

respect

commit

to the mosaic of our

distinct stories.

Our bodies

Our landscapes,

Our jewels

build something

beautiful together. – TS

The Universe Whispers

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a whisper
breathed in
just the
right spot
 
where
shoots spring
from the warm,
dense forest
floor,
 
where drying
crackling
leaves sway
in the thin
mountain air,
 
where
the mother
ends and
the child
begins,
 
will echo
from here
to eternity
 
will reverberate
as forcefully
as a thousand
songs
 
will tell the
only stories
we need
to know. – TS

The World of Us

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Even now, we remember where freedom is, from where it cannot be taken away, and so I look in the mirror, and find not only myself, but all of my sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. We are all over the globe and we are also infinite. I find each of us standing in all our beautiful time-worn humility, experiences etched on our faces, stories unfurling from our hearts like the thread that is already saving the world. We breathe are beauty and our love, and so the world is made. – TS

My Questions To You

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What is your saving grace?
What pushes you to the darkest
places on a night of no stars, full,
instead, of the thicket of feverish dreams?
What grand and majestic hope has stayed
with you since you were a tiny little child?
What did you want to be when you
grew up, and is this still your fantasy?
 
I am your ear, your hand, your heart.
We can hide in the dark together, and
when we’re ready to emerge, we can
run and laugh catch the sun and sand
and build castles of what’s never been lost.
I implore: can we share the happy and sad,
our hesitant and bolder steps in this world,
all our inner magic, before it’s too late? – TS

The Space Between Us

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There is nothing more
I’d like on this cold and
clouded wintry morning,
than to sit in the warmth
that is only one of the
day’s many blessings,
and lay bare our
stories, through
our silence too,
hands wrapped around
mugs as we watch the
steam rise in the space
between us,
which is no space
at all, and grow
our hearts so big
that they can shelter
everyone in the
world who needs it. – TS

We Must Tell Our Stories. {Poem}

 

 

Day 17

My Street Japan. DAY 17. Tammy T. Stone

Wherever I go in the world

There will always be this man

Who once worked at a car dealership

And now runs the soba shop

We sit in today

With special seasonal eggplant

Coming from Nara

Home of the 24 meter high Buddha,

The biggest bronze sculpture

In the world

 

He wears a purple polo tee

And a bracelet of clear beads

Around his wrist,

As he speaks his story

Over the quiet din of food preparation

And I am reminded of all the stories

We must unearth

We must tell and we must listen to

We must cherish

  • Tammy T. Stone

What Our Stories Tell Us About Ourselves.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Are we the stories we tell?

Do our stories—that is, our way of conceiving and talking about ourselves—have anything to do with the question, who am I?

Which stories make us feel like ourselves, and how much, and in what way? How much do our stories correspond to the answers we find when we attempt self-understanding?

We probably find that some of our stories, if we reflect on them, make us feel very secure while others make us squirm a little, and that the stories that have these effects are likely to change over time.

Ramana Maharshi, the great Hindu guru and sage who awakened at the age of 16, famously advocated asking the question “Who am I?” as a meditation practice, believing that self-inquiry, and plenty of silence, was the way to evolve to higher planes of consciousness.

“Enquiring within Who is the seer? I saw the seer disappear leaving that alone which stands forever. No thought arose to say I saw. How then could the thought arise to say I did not see.” ~ Ramana Maharshi

We can say that “that which stands forever” is something pure, beyond the mind and the stories we tell about ourselves.

Yet stories are bound to erupt as we ask, “Who is the seer?” Who is the person even doing the asking? Who is it that is seeking his or own true identity? Who asks, “What is true? What is reality? Where am ‘I’ really located and what is essential about me?”

Our answers are bound to tell us something about the stories we tell and the relationship we have, and think we have, with them.

What are some of the ways we tell stories?

We write works of fiction.

We make movies.

We lie.

We tell the truth.

We share anecdotes with friends.

We explain things to children.

We explain things to each other.

We draw pictures.

We discuss our memories.

We remember things, and then re-remember them, over and over.

We sit under a great big sky and wonder about things.

We put two and two together.

We fill out forms and questionnaires.

We answer the question, “How are you,” and explain to people what we do for a living.

We react in predictable ways to things that cause pain, and joy.

We say things like, “I wouldn’t do that. I love those kinds of things. I am the type of person who hates when that happens.”

A story is never just a story. It is the culmination of an entire system of thoughts, beliefs, conditioning and identifying markers. As they form, they become infused into us, and it becomes hard to distinguish the stories from the person, the “I” who has absorbed and reformulated them again and again.

“The body does not say ‘I’. In sleep no one admits he is not. The ‘I’ emerging, all else emerges. Enquire with a keen mind whence this ‘I’ rises.” ~ Ramana Maharshi

How empowering, then, to recognize that, just as we are not our bodies (if we lose a finger, we still think of ourselves as us), or our feelings (feelings come and go, but we still feel we have an “us”), and our minds (our thoughts are a virtual revolving door of coming and going, yet here “we” are), nor are we our stories.

Our stories can be beautiful things. We are creative beings by nature, and storytelling (and extensions of that, myth-making and the formation of all kinds of grand narratives) are a natural part of the fabric of being human, in both the individual and collective sense.

It’s when our stories threaten to limit us, overwhelm us and hold us fixed to one spot (especially when that spot is not serving us and we no longer want to be there), that we may wish to learn how to separate from our stories.

Our stories have gotten us here, to this point, no matter where we are or what our aspirations might be. This isn’t good or bad; it’s natural, and intrinsic to our way of being human. We can’t so much as look as cross the street without a whole host of stories running through our head, some of which help us know how to cross that street in the first place.

We all exist in relationship, to other things, beings and people, and to our own history, and what is the strongest glue bringing us into connection, if not our stories?

But notice how they are among the first things to rise to the surface, explode into chaos and reveal their impermanence when we sit down to meditate, breathe and fill ourselves with silence in a space of calm and rest.

They bubble up and ask to be witnessed. They shake; they are fragile and hesitant and wavering and very demanding of our attention. They poke and threaten to disappear if we let them.

Do we let them?

How much do we hold on, terrified to lose our grip on what we’ve come to know as our reality, and how much do we let go?

If we hold our stories in our hands and scrutinize them, will they change or will they disappear, and doesn’t the former mean the latter? If something takes on a different form, it is no longer what it was. This means that we can dislodge it from its stronghold and it loses some of its power over us.

Sitting quietly and observing our stories stomp into our minds in a relentless bid to take over is one way to recognize that we aren’t our stories; why would the deepest, most lasting parts of ourselves give us such grief and be so susceptible to transformation? Journaling—writing variations of our stories down—is another powerful way to get them out, separate from them and begin to see them for what they really are.

Which takes us that much closer to who we really are.

Let’s love our stories, and honour the humanity that allows us to have and share them, and to learn from each other in this way. Let’s mindfully remain aware that we are creating something every time we tell a story, and that this act of creation has come about to serve a purpose. Only we can determine what that purpose is and how we feel about it.

And when and if the time comes, let’s recognize that there is so much more to who we are than the stories that have brought us here, and that we have the power to lay them gently aside as we continue on our path of evolution.