Dancing the Dream (1992) – Reflections
How I Make Music
People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song. So I stay in the moment and listen.
What I hear is never the same. A walk through the woods brings a light, crackling song: Leaves rustle in the wind, birds chatter and squirrels scold, twigs crunch underfoot, and the beat of my heart holds it all together. When you join the flow, the music is inside and outside, and both are the same. As long as I can listen to the moment, I’ll always have music.
Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many occasions when I’m dancing, I’ve felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I’ve felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and the creation merge into one wholeness of joy.
I keep on dancing and dancing . . . . . and dancing, until there is only . . . . . the dance.
I love the whole world of dance, because dancing is really the emotions through bodily movement. And however you feel, you just bring out that inner feeling through your mood. A lot of people don’t think about the importance of it, but there’s a whole psychological thing to just letting loose. Dancing is important, like laughing, to back off tension. Escapism…it’s great.
I really believe that each person has a destiny from the day he’s born, and certain people have a thing they’re meant to do. There’s a reason why the Japanese are better at technology, and a reason why the Negro race are more into music – you go back to Africa and the tribes and the beating of the drums…
I love Studio 54 in New York; it’s so theatrical and dramatic. People come there as characters, and it’s like going to a play. You make yourself up to be this thing and just go crazy with the lights and the music, and you’re in another world. It’s very escapist…
Escapism and wonder is influence. It makes you feel good, and that allows you to do things. You just keep on moving ahead, and you say, “God, is this wonderful – do I appreciate it.”
Dance Of Life
I cannot escape the moon. Its soft beams push aside the curtains at night. I don’t even have to see it – a cool blue energy falls across my bed and I am up. I race down the dark hall and swing open the door, not to leave home but to go back to it. “Moon, I’m here!” I shout. “Good,” she replies. “Now give us a little dance.” But my body has started moving long before she says anything. When did it start? I can’t remember – my body has always been moving. Since childhood I have reacted to the moon this way, as her favorite lunatic, and not just hers. The stars draw me near, close enough so that I see through their twinkling act. They’re dancing too; doing a soft molecular jiggle that makes my carbon atoms jump in time.
With my arms flung wide, I head for the sea, which brings out another dance in me. Moon dancing is slow inside, and soft as blue shadows on the lawn. When the surf booms, I hear the heart of the earth, and the tempo picks up. I feel the dolphins leaping in the white foam, trying to fly, and almost flying when the waves curl high to the heavens. Their tails leave arcs of light as plankton glow in the waves. A school of minnows rise up, flashing silver in the moonlight like a new constellation. “Ah!” the sea says. “Now we’re gathering a crowd.”
I run along the beach, catching waves with one foot and dodging them with the other. I hear faint popping sounds – a hundred panicky sand crabs are ducking into their holes, just in case. But I’m racing now, sometimes on my toes, sometimes running flat-out. I throw my head back and a swirling nebula says, “Fast now, twirl!” Grinning, ducking my head for balance, I start to spin as wildly as I can. This is my favorite dance, because it contains a secret. The faster I twirl, the more I am still inside. My dance is all motion without, all silence within. As much as I love to make music, it’s the unheard music that never dies. And silence is my real dance, though it never moves. It stands aside, my choreographer of grace, and blesses each finger and toe.
I have forgotten the moon now and the sea and the dolphins, but I am in their joy more than ever. As far away as a star, as near as a grain of sand, the presence rises, shimmering with light. I could be in it forever; it is so loving and warm. But touch it once, and the light shoots forth from stillness. It quivers and thrills me, and I know my fate is to show others that this silence, this light, this blessing is my dance. I take this gift only to give it again. “Quick, give!” says the light.
As never before, I try to obey, inventing new steps, new gestures of joy. All at once I sense were I am, running back up the hill. The light in my bedroom is on. Seeing it brings me back down. I begin to feel my pounding heart, the drowsiness in my arms, the warm blood in my legs. My cells want to dance slower. “Can we walk a little?” they ask. “It’s been kind of wild.” “Sure.” I laugh, slowing to an easy amble.
I turn the doorknob, panting lightly, glad to be tired. Crawling back into bed, I remember something that I always wonder at. They say that some of the stars that you see overhead aren’t really there. Their light takes millions of years to reach us, and all we are doing is looking into the past, into a bygone moment when those stars could still shine. “So what does a star do after it quits shining?” I ask myself. “Maybe it dies.” “Oh, no,” a voice in my head says. “A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life.” I like that thought, the last one that I have before my eyes close. With a smile, I melt back into the music myself.
When I get on stage, I don’t know what happens. It feels so good, it’s like the safest place in the world for me…I was raised on stage.
Certain people were created for certain things, and I think our job is to entertain the world. I don’t see no other thing that I could be doing.
I’ve seen the very rich and the very poor, but I’m mainly interested in the poor…I want to appreciate what I have, and try to help others.
When I go to other countries, I wish to see the “poorer” parts. I want to see what it’s really like to starve. I don’t want to hear it, or read it. I want to see it.
It’s a whole different thing when you see it! All the things I’ve read in my schoolbooks about England and the Queen were okay, but my eyes are the greatest book in the world. When we did the Royal Command Performance, and then after it I actually looked into the Queen’s eyes, it was the greatest thing! And it’s the same with starvation, when you see it, you receive a little more…
It’s strange that God doesn’t mind expressing Himself/Herself in all the religions of the world, while people still cling to the notion that their way is the only right way. Whatever you try to say about God, someone will take offense, even if you say everyone’s love of God is right for them. For me the form God takes is not the most important thing. What’s most important is the essence. My songs and dances are outlines for Him to come in and fill. I hold out the form. She puts in the sweetness.
I’ve looked up at the night sky and beheld the stars so intimately close, it was as if my grandmother had made them for me. “How rich, how sumptuous,” I thought. In that moment I saw God in His creation. I could as easily have seen Her in the beauty of a rainbow, the grace of a deer bounding through a meadow, the truth of a father’s kiss. But for me the sweetest contact with God has no form. I close my eyes, look within, and enter a deep soft silence. The infinity of God’s creation embraces me. We are one.
Love is a funny thing to describe. It’s so easy to feel and yet so slippery to talk about. It’s like a bar of soap in the bathtub – you have it in your hand until you hold on too tight.
Some people spend their lives looking for love outside themselves. They think they have to grasp it in order to have it. But love slips away like that wet bar of soap.
Holding on to love is not wrong, but you need to learn to hold it lightly, caressingly. Let it fly when it wants. When it’s allowed to be free, love is what makes life alive, joyful, and new. It’s the juice and energy that motivates my music, my dancing, everything. As long as love is in my heart, it’s everywhere.
It’s easy to mistake being innocent for being simpleminded or naive. We all want to seem sophisticated; we all want to seem street-smart. To be innocent is to be “out of it.”
Yet there is a deep truth in innocence. A baby looks in his mother’s eyes, and all he sees is love. As innocence fades away, more complicated things take its place. We think we need to outwit others and scheme to get what we want. We begin to spend a whole lot of energy protecting ourselves. Then life turns into a struggle. People have no choice but to be street-smart. How else can they survive?
When you get right down to it, survival means seeing things the way they really are and responding. It means being open. And that’s what innocence is. It’s simple and trusting like a child, not judgmental and committed to one narrow point of view. If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades.
As I was feeding squirrels in the park, I noticed a small one that didn’t seem to trust me. While the others came close enough to eat out of my hand, he kept his distance. I threw a peanut his way. He edged up, grabbed it nervously, and ran off. Next time he must have felt less afraid, because he came a little closer. The safer he felt, the more he trusted me. Finally he sat right at my feet, as bold as any squirrel clamoring for the next peanut.
Trust is like that – it always seems to come down to trusting in yourself. Others can’t overcome fear for you; you have to do it on your own. It’s hard, because fear and doubt hold on tight. We are afraid of being rejected, of being hurt once more. So we keep a safe distance. We think separating ourselves from others will protect us, but that doesn’t work, either. It leaves us feeling alone and unloved.
Trusting yourself begins by recognizing that it’s okay to be afraid. Having fear is not the problem, because everyone feels anxious and insecure sometimes. The problem is not being honest enough to admit your fear. Whenever I accept my own doubt and insecurity, I’m more open to other people. The deeper I go into myself, the stronger I become, because I realize that my real self is much bigger than any fear. In accepting yourself completely, trust becomes complete. There is no longer any separation between people, because there is no longer any separation inside. In the space where fear used to live, love is allowed to grow.
It’s curious what takes courage and what doesn’t. When I step out on stage in front of thousands of people, I don’t feel that I’m being brave. It takes much more courage to express true feelings to one person. When I think of courage, I think of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He was always running away from danger. He often cried and shook with fear. But he was also sharing his real feelings with those he loved, even though he didn’t always like those feelings.
That takes real courage, the courage to be intimate. Expressing your feelings is not the same as falling apart in front of someone else, it’s being accepting and true to your own heart, whatever it may say. When you have the courage to be intimate, you know who you are, and you’re willing to let others see that. It’s scary, because you feel so vulnerable, so open to rejection. But without self-acceptance, the other kind of courage, the kind heroes show in movies, seems hollow. In spite of the risks, the courage to be honest and intimate opens the way to self discovery. It offers what we all want, the promise of love.
Wings Without Me
It was August, and I was looking up at the sky. With one hand shielding my eyes, I made out a falcon soaring on the currents of hot swirling air. Higher and higher it spiraled, until with one unearthly shriek, it disappeared. All at once I felt left behind. “Why did you grow wings without me?” I mourned. Then my spirit said, “The falcon’s way is not the only way. Your thoughts are as free as any bird.” So I shut my eyes and my spirit took off, spiraling as high as the falcon and then beyond, so that I was looking down over the whole earth. But something was wrong. Why did I feel so cold and alone?
“You grew wings without me,” my heart said. “What good is freedom without love?” So I went quietly to the bed of a sick child and sang him a lullaby. He fell asleep smiling, and my heart took off, joining my spirit as it circled over the earth. I was free and loving, but still something was wrong. “You grew wings without me,” my body said. “Your flights are only imagination.” So I looked into books that I had ignored before and read about saints in every age who actually flew. In India, Persia, China, and Spain (even in Los Angeles!), the power of spirit has reached, not just into the heart, but into every cell of the body. “As if carried aloft by a great eagle,” Saint Teresa said, “my ecstasy lifted me into the air.”
I began to believe in this amazing feat, and for the first time, I didn’t feel left behind. I was the falcon and the child and the saint. In my eyes their lives became sacred, and the truth came home: When all life is seen as divine, everyone grows wings.
But The Heart Said No
They saw the poor living in cardboard shacks, so they knocked the shacks down and built projects. Huge blocks of cement and glass towered over asphalt parking lots. Somehow it wasn’t much like home, even home in a shack. “What do you expect?” they asked impatiently. “You’re too poor to live like us. Until you can do better for yourselves, you should be grateful, shouldn’t you?” The head said yes, but the heart said no. They needed more electricity in the city, so they found a mountain stream to dam. As the waters rose, dead rabbits and deer floated by; baby birds too young to fly drowned in the nest while mother birds cried helplessly. “It’s not a pretty sight,” they said, “but now a million people can run their air conditioners all summer. That’s more important than one mountain stream, isn’t it?” The head said yes, but the heart said no.
They saw oppression and terrorism in a far-off land, so they made war against it. Bombs reduced the country to rubble. Its population cowered in fear, and every day more villagers were buried in rough wooden coffins. “You have to be prepared to make sacrifices,” they said. “If some innocent bystanders get hurt, isn’t that just the price one must pay for peace?” The head said yes, but the heart said no.
The years rolled by and they got old. Sitting in their comfortable houses, they took stock. “We’ve had a good life,” they said, “and we did the right thing.” Their children looked down and asked why poverty, pollution, and war were still unsolved. “You’ll find out soon enough,” they replied. “Human beings are weak and selfish. Despite our best efforts, these problems will never really end.”
The head said yes, but the children looked into their hearts and whispered, “No!”
So The Elephants March
A curious fact about elephants is this: In order to survive, they mustn’t fall down. Every other animal can stumble and get back up again. But an elephant always stands up, even to sleep. If one of the herd slips and falls, it is helpless. It lies on its side, a prisoner of its own weight. Although the other elephants will press close around it in distress and try to lift it up again, there isn’t usually much they can do. With slow heaving breaths, the fallen elephant dies. The others stand vigil, then slowly move on. This is what I learned from nature books, but I wonder if they are right.
Isn’t there another reason why elephants can’t fall down? Perhaps they have decided not to. Not to fall down is their mission. As the wisest and most patient of the animals, they made a pact – I imagine it was eons ago, when the ice ages were ending. Moving in great herds across the face of the earth, the elephants first spied tiny men prowling the tall grasses with their flint spears. “What fear and anger this creature has,” the elephants thought. “But he is going to inherit the earth. We are wise enough to see that. Let us set an example for him.”
Then the elephants put their grizzled heads together and pondered. What kind of example could they show to man? They could show him that their power was much greater than his, for that was certainly true. They could display their anger before him, which was terrible enough to uproot whole forests. Or they could lord it over man through fear, trampling his fields and crushing his huts. In moments of great frustration, wild elephants will do all of these things, but as a group, putting their heads together, they decided that man would learn best from a kinder message.
“Let us show him our reverence for life,” they said. And from that day on, elephants have been silent, patient, peaceful creatures. They let men ride them and harness them like slaves. They permit children to laugh at their tricks in the circus, exiled from the great African plains where they once lived as lords. But the elephants’ most important message is in their movement. For they know that to live is to move. Dawn after dawn, age after age, the herds march on, one great mass of life that never falls down, an unstoppable force of peace.
Innocent animals, they do not suspect that after all this time, they will fall from a bullet by the thousands. They will lie in the dust, mutilated by our shameless greed. The great males fall first, so that their tusks can be made into trinkets. Then the females fall, so that men may have trophies. The babies run screaming from the smell of their own mothers’ blood, but it does them no good to run from the guns. Silently, with no one to nurse them, they will die, too, and all their bones bleach in the sun.
In the midst of so much death, the elephants could just give up. All they have to do is drop to the ground. That is enough. They don’t need a bullet: Nature has given them the dignity to lie down and find their rest. But they remember their ancient pact and their pledge to us, which is sacred. So the elephants march on, and every tread beats out words in the dust: “Watch, learn, love. Watch, learn, love.” Can you hear them? One day in shame, the ghosts of ten thousand lords of the plains will say, “We do not hate you. Don’t you see at last? We were willing to fall, so that you, dear small ones, will never fall again.”
Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone. This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts. This has so much to teach. If a child wants chocolate ice cream, he just asks for it. Adults get tangled up in complications over whether to eat the ice cream or not. A child simply enjoys. What we need to learn from children isn’t childish. Being with them connects us to the deep wisdom of life, which is ever present and only asks to be lived. Now, when the world is so confused and its problems so complicated, I feel we need our children more than ever. Their natural wisdom points the way to solutions that lie, waiting to be recognized, within our own hearts.
On Children Of The World
We have to heal our wounded world. The chaos, despair, and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment. Often this alienation has its roots in an emotionally deprived childhood. Children have had their childhood stolen from them. A child’s mind needs the nourishment of mystery, magic, wonder, and excitement. I want my work to help people rediscover the child that’s hiding in them.
My idea of magic doesn’t have much to do with stage tricks and illusions. The whole world abounds in magic. When a whale plunges out of the sea like a newborn mountain, you gasp in unexpected delight. What magic! But a toddler who sees his first tadpole flashing in a mud puddle feels the same thrill. Wonder fills his heart, because he has glimpsed for an instant the playfulness of life. When I see the clouds whisked away from a snow-capped peak, I feel like shouting, “Bravo!” Nature, the best of all magicians, has delivered another thrill. She has exposed the real illusion, our inability to be amazed by her wonders. Every time the sun rises, Nature is repeating one command: “Behold!” Her magic is infinitely lavish, and in return all we have to do is appreciate it.
What delight Nature must feel when she makes stars out of swirling gas and empty space. She flings them like spangles from a velvet cape, a billion reasons for us to awaken in pure joy. When we open our hearts and appreciate all she has given us, Nature finds her reward. The sound of applause rolls across the universe, and she bows.
The Fish That Was Thirsty
One night a baby fish was sleeping under some coral when God appeared to him in a dream. “I want you to go forth with a message to all the fish in the sea,” God said. “What should I tell them?” the little fish asked. “Just tell them you’re thirsty,” God replied. “And see what they do.” Then without another word, He disappeared.
The next morning the little fish woke up and remembered his dream. “What a strange thing God wants me to do,” he thought to himself. But as soon as he saw a large tuna swimming by, the little fish piped up, “Excuse me, but I’m thirsty.” “Then you must be a fool,” then tuna said. And with a disdainful flick of his tail, he swam away.
The little fish did feel rather foolish, but he had his orders. The next fish he saw was a grinning shark. Keeping a safe distance, the little fish called out, “Excuse me, sir, but I’m thirsty.” “Then you must be crazy,” the shark replied. Noticing a rather hungry look in the shark’s eye, the little fish swam away quickly. All day he met cod and mackerels and swordfish and groupers, but every time he made his short speech, they turned their backs and would have nothing to do with him. Feeling hopelessly confused, the little fish sought out the wisest creature in the sea, who happened to be an old blue whale with three harpoon scars on his side.
“Excuse me, but I’m thirsty!” the little fish shouted, wondering if the old whale could even see him, he was such a tiny speck. But the wise one stopped in his tracks. “You’ve seen God, haven’t you?” he said. “How did you know?” “Because I was thirsty once, too.” The old whale laughed. The little fish looked very surprised. “Please tell me what this message from God means,” he implored.
“It means that we are looking for Him in the wrong places,” the old whale explained. “We look high and low for God, but somehow He’s not there. So we blame Him and tell ourselves that He must have forgotten us. Or else we decide that He left a long time ago, if He was ever around.” “How strange,” the little fish said, “to miss what is everywhere.” “Very strange,” the old whale agreed. “Doesn’t it remind you of fish who say they’re thirsty?”
They hated the Wall, but what could they do? It was too strong to break through. They feared the Wall, but didn’t that make sense? Many who tried to climb over it were killed. They distrusted the Wall, but who wouldn’t? Their enemies refused to tear down one brick, no matter how long the peace talks dragged on. The Wall laughed grimly. “I’m teaching you a good lesson,” it boasted. “If you want to build for eternity, don’t bother with stones. Hatred, fear, and distrust are so much stronger.” They knew the Wall was right, and they almost gave up. Only one thing stopped them. They remembered who was on the other side. Grandmother, cousin, sister, wife. Beloved faces that yearned to be seen. “What’s happening?” the Wall asked, trembling. Without knowing what they did, they were looking through the Wall, trying to find their dear ones. Silently, from one person to another, love kept up its invisible work. “Stop it!” the Wall shrieked. “I’m falling apart.” But it was too late. A million hearts had found each other. The Wall had fallen before it came down.
Angel Of Light
It’s hard to see angels, although I’ve stared at their pictures for hours. Some people can see them without pictures, and they tell interesting tales. Guardian angels are all female, for instance, which didn’t surprise me once I found out. A birth angel, recruited from the younger ranks, attends every baby when it appears, while another angel, older but not grim, helps the dying to leave this world without grief or pain.
You can pray to the angels and they will listen, but the best way to call them, I am told, is to laugh. Angels respond to delight, because that is what they’re made of. In fact, when people’s minds are clouded by anger or hatred, no angel can reach them.
Not all angels have wings — so the visionaries claim — but those who do can unfurl a span of golden feathers stretching over the entire world. If you had eyes that could look straight into the sun, you would see an overwhelming angel presiding there; a more serene one smiles out from the face of the moon.
Angels spend their entire lives, which are forever, spinning around the Creator’s throne, singing His praise. People with keen ears have listened in. The harmonies of the angelic choir are incredibly complex, they say, but the rhythm is simple. “It’s mostly march time,” one eavesdropper affirmed. For some reason, that fact is almost the best I have learned so far.
After a while it got lonely hearing about angels you couldn’t see for yourself. When an angel-watcher heard that, she was shocked. “Not see?” she said. “But you have an angel in you. Everybody does. I can see it right now, and I thought you could, too.” “No,” I said sadly, and I asked what it looked like. “Did it look like me?”
“Well, yes and no,” the angel-watcher mysterious answered. “It all depends on what you think you are. Your angel is a speck of light perched at the very center of your heart. It is smaller than an atom, but just wait. Once you get close to it, your angel will expand. The closer you come, the more it will grow, until finally, in a burst of light, you will see your angel in its true shape, and at that very instant, you will also see yourself.”
So now I am looking for my angel all the time. I sit silently, turning my gaze inward. It wasn’t long before I caught a glimpse of something. “Is that you, Angel, holding a candle?” One flicker and it was gone. Yet that was enough to set my heart wildly beating. Next time my angel will be waving a lamp, then holding a torch aloft, then lighting a bonfire.
That’s what the angel-watcher promised, and now that I have caught sight of glory, I know enough to believe.
That One In The Mirror
I wanted to change the world, so I got up one morning and looked in the mirror. That one looking back said: “There is not much time left. The earth is wracked with pain. Children are starving. Nations remain divided by mistrust and hatred. Everywhere the air and water have been fouled almost beyond help. Do something!”
That one in the mirror felt very angry and desperate. Everything looked like a mess, a tragedy, a disaster. I decided he must be right. Didn’t I feel terrible about these things, too, just like him? The planet was being used up and thrown away. Imagining earthly life just one generation from now made me feel panicky.
It was not hard to find the good people who wanted to solve the earth’s problems. As I listened to their solutions, I thought, There is so much good will here, so much concern. At night before going to bed, that one in the mirror looked back at me seriously, Now we’ll get somewhere, he declared. If everybody does their part.
But everybody didn’t do their part. Some did, but were they stopping the tide? Were pain, starvation, hatred, and pollution about to be solved? Wishing wouldn’t make it so – I knew that. When I woke up the next morning, that one in the mirror looked confused. Maybe it’s hopeless, he whispered… Then a sly look came into his eyes, and he shrugged. But you and I will survive. At least we are doing all right.
I felt strange when he said that. There was something very wrong here. A faint suspicion came to me, one that had never dawned so clearly before. What if that one in the mirror isn’t me? He feels separate. He sees problems – out there – to be solved. Maybe they will be, maybe they won’t. He’ll get along. But I don’t feel that way – those problems aren’t out there, not really. I feel them inside me. A child crying in Ethiopia, a sea gull struggling pathetically in an oil spill, a mountain gorilla being mercilessly hunted, a teenage soldier trembling with terror when he hears the planes fly over. Aren’t these happening in me when I see and hear about them?
The next time I looked in the mirror, that one looking back had started to fade. It was only an image after all. It showed me a solitary person enclosed in a neat package of skin and bones. “Did I once think you were me?” I began to wonder. I am not so separate and afraid. The pain of life touches me, but the joy of life is so much stronger. And it alone will heal. Life is the healer of life, and the most I can do for the earth is to be its loving child.That one in the mirror winced and squirmed. He hadn’t thought so much about love. Seeing problems was much easier, because love means complete self-honesty. Ouch!
Oh, friend, I whispered to him, do you think anything can solve problems without love? That one in the mirror wasn’t sure. Being alone for so long, not trusting others and being trusted by others, it tended to detach itself from the reality of life. “Is love more real than pain?” he asked.
“I can’t promise that it is. But it might be. Let’s discover”, I said. I touched the mirror with a grin. “Let’s not be alone again. Will you be my partner? I hear a dance starting up. Come”. That one in the mirror smiled shyly. He was realizing we could be best friends. We could be more peaceful, more loving, more honest with each other every day.
“Would that change the world?” I think it will, because Mother Earth wants us to be happy and to love her as we tend her needs. She needs fearless people on her side, whose courage comes from being part of her, like a baby who is brave enough to walk because Mother is holding out her arms to catch him. When that one in the mirror is full of love for me and for him, there is no room for fear. When we were afraid and panicky, we stopped loving this life of ours and this earth.
We disconnected. Yet how can anybody rush to help the earth if they feel disconnected? Perhaps the earth is telling us what she wants, and by not listening, we fall back on our own fear and panic.
One thing I know: I never feel alone when I am earth’s child. I do not have to cling to my personal survival as long as I realize, day by day, that all of life is in me. The children and their pain; the children and their joy. The ocean swelling under the sun; the ocean weeping with black oil. The animals hunted in fear; the animals bursting with the sheer joy of being alive.
This sense of – the world in me – is how I always want to feel. That one in the mirror has his doubts sometimes. So I am tender with him. Every morning I touch the mirror and whisper,
Oh, friend, I hear a dance. Will you be my partner? Come.
Look Again Baby Seal
One of the most touching nature photographs is of a baby fur seal lying on the ice alone. I’m sure you have seen it — the picture seems to be all eyes, the trusting dark eyes of a small animal gazing up at the camera and into your heart. When I first looked at them, the eyes asked, “Are you going to hurt me?” I knew the answer was yes, because thousands of baby seals were being killed every year.
Many people were touched by one baby seal’s helplessness. They gave money to save the seals, and public awareness started to shift. As I returned to the picture, those two wide eyes began to say something different. Now they asked, “Do you know me?” This time I didn’t feel so much heartache as when I felt the violence man inflicts upon animals.
But I realized that there was still a big gap. How much did I really know about life on earth? What responsibility did I feel for creatures outside my little space? How could I lead my life so that every cell of living matter was also benefited?
Everyone who began to wonder about these things found, I think, that their feelings were shifting away from fear toward more closeness with life as a whole. The beauty and wonder of life began to seem very personal; the possibility of making the planet a garden for all of us to grow in began to dawn. I looked into the eyes of the baby seal, and for the first time they smiled. “Thank you,” they said. “You have given me hope.”
Is that enough? Hope is such a beautiful word, but it often seems very fragile. Life is still being needlessly hurt and destroyed. The image of one baby seal alone on the ice or one baby girl orphaned in war is still frightening in its helplessness. I realized that nothing would finally save life on earth but trust in life itself, in its power to heal, in its ability to survive our mistakes and welcome us back when we learn to correct those mistakes.
With these thoughts in my heart, I looked at the picture again. The seal’s eyes seemed much deeper now, and I saw something in them that I had missed before: unconquerable strength. “You have not hurt me,” they said. “I am not one baby alone. I am life, and life can never be killed. It is the power that brought me forth from the emptiness of space; it cared for me and nourished my existence against all dangers. I am safe because I am that power. And so are you. Be with me, and let us feel the power of life together, as one creature here on earth.”
Baby seal, forgive us. Look at us again and again to see how we are doing. Those men who raise their clubs over you are also fathers and brothers and sons. They have loved and cared for others. One day they will extend that love to you. Be sure of it and trust.
A Child Is A Song
When children listen to music, they don’t just listen. They melt into the melody and flow with the rhythm. Something inside starts to unfold its wings – soon the child and the music are one. I feel that way, too, in the presence of music, and my best moments of creativity have often been spent with children. When I am around them, music comes to me as easily as breathing.
Each song is a child I nourish and give my love to. But even if you have never written a song, your life is a song. How can it not be? In wave after wave, Nature caresses you – the rhythm of each dawn and each sunset is part of you, the falling rain touches your soul, and you see yourself in the clouds that are playing tag with the sun. To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. To feel each one, softly and attentively, brings out its music.
Do you feel your music?
Children do, but once we grow up, life becomes a burden and a chore, and the music grows fainter. Sometimes the heart is so heavy that we turn away from it and forget that its throbbing is the wisest message of life, a wordless message that says, “Live, be, move, rejoice — you are alive!” Without the heart’s wise rhythm, we could not exist.
When I begin to feel a little tired or burdened, children revive me. I turn to them for new life, for new music. Two brown eyes look at me so deeply, so innocently, and inside I murmur, “This child is a song.” It is so true and direct an experience that instantly I realize again, “I am a song also.” I am back to myself once more.
I You We
I said you had to do it. You said you didn’t want to. We talked about it, and we agreed that maybe I could help. I said you were wrong. You insisted you were right. We held each other’s hand, and right and wrong disappeared. I began crying. You began crying, too. We embraced, and between us grew a flower of peace. How I love this mystery called We! Where does it come from, out of thin air?
I thought about this mystery, and I realized something: We must be love’s favorite child, because until I reach out for you, We is not even there. It arrives on the wings of tenderness: it speaks through our silent understanding. When I laugh at myself, it smiles. When I forgive you, it dances in jubilation. So We is not a choice anymore, not if you and I want to grow with one another. We unites us, increases our strength; it picks up our burden when you and I are ready to let it fall. The truth is that you and I would have given up long ago, but We won’t let us. It is too wise. “Look into your hearts,” it says. “What do you see? Not you and I, but only We.”
I was walking along the beach one winter day. Looking down, I saw a wave push a feather up on the sand. It was a sea gull feather stained with oil. I picked it up and felt the dark slick film on my fingers. I couldn’t help wondering if the bird had survived. Was it all right out there? I knew it wasn’t.
I felt sad to think how carelessly we treat our home. The earth we all share is not just a rock tossed through space but a living, nurturing being. She cares for us; she deserves our care in return. We’ve been treating Mother Earth the way some people treat a rental apartment. Just trash it and move on.
But there’s no place to move on to now. We have brought our garbage and our wars and our racism to every part of the world. We must begin to clean her up, and that means cleaning up our own hearts and minds first, because they led us to poison our dear planet. The sooner we change, the easier it will be to feel our love for Mother Earth and the love she so freely gives back to us.
Like the old Indian proverb says, “Do not judge a man until you’ve walked 2 moons in his moccasins”. Most people don’t know me, that is why they write such things in which MOST is not true. I cry very often because it hurts and I worry about the children all over the world, I live for them.
If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.
Animals strike, not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize; they desire our BLOOD, not our pain. But still I must achieve I must seek truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world, for the children.
But have mercy, for I’ve been bleeding a long time now.
The Last Tear
Your words stabbed my heart, and I cried tears of pain. “Get out!” I shouted. “These are the last tears I’ll ever cry for you.” So you left. I waited for hours, but you didn’t return. That night by myself I cried tears of frustration. I waited weeks, but you had nothing to say. Thinking of your voice, I cried tears of loneliness. I waited months, but you left no sign for me. In the depths of my heart, I cried tears of despair. How strange that all these tears could not wash away the hurt! Then one thought of love pierced my bitterness. I remembered you in the sunlight, with a smile as sweet as May wine. A tear of gratitude started to fall, and miraculously, you were back. Soft fingers touched my cheek, and you bent over for a kiss. “Why have you come?” I whispered. “To wipe away your last tear,” you replied. “It was the one you saved for me.”