Aug 23 2018

Pat Schneider – Instructions for the Journey

Published by at 9:53 am under Poetry

Instructions for the Journey
by Pat Schneider

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

— from Olive Street Transfer, by Pat Schneider


/ Image by Alice Popkorn /

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.

We are alive, and because we are alive, we change. We imagine we know who we are, that we are a fixed, certain self. But the truth is that we are continuously emerging from the old self into a new, unknown self.

If we think we are a certain thing, a certain person and that we fully understand that person, then we are not truly seeing ourselves as we are. The only fixed self is the old self, the past self, the self we have already shed. If we think we are that old self, then we feel a sense of loss and bewilderment. We are always working against the flow of life to become who we were yesterday or ten years ago.

Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.

There is something messy and uncertain about who we actually are right now. The self we are does not fit easily into the simple ideas of who we should be. And our evolution continues in this very moment. We are still becoming.

But that is where the life is. That is where the potential is.

Let us be kind to ourselves and accept the changing, emerging self. Let us be at ease with our own internal movement. Even at our most still, there is a gentle flow.

The world, too, sheds its skin…

The more we seek a static understanding of the self or the world, the more we miss the magic unfolding before us:

It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment.

The more we set aside our ideas and expectations and past histories, the more we can simply be, with a sense of openness and wonder, the more we truly encounter the living mystery we are already participants in.

Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter.

I rather like the pithy, down-to-earth final piece of advice:

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

I’ll let you in on a personal secret: I love to do dishes. That’s one of my household chores. I do dishes by hand several times a day. There is something satisfying about creating cleanliness and order from the mild mess of daily domestic activity. The mind shifts into a low gear as the hands begin to work their own pattern while water and soap suds run through the fingers. It is a gentle massage for the entire household. It is a meditation made tactile.

Just doing that with easy attention can bring us back to truths that we miss amidst our grand efforts.

Have a beautiful weekend!


Recommended Books: Pat Schneider

Another River: New and Selected Poems Writing Alone and with Others Olive Street Transfer How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography
More Books >>


Pat Schneider, Pat Schneider poetry,  poetry Pat Schneider

US (Contemporary)

More poetry by Pat Schneider

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Pat Schneider – Instructions for the Journey”

  1. jim con 23 Aug 2018 at 10:56 am

    first job age 5 standing on a stool-washing because older sis didn’t want to
    still washing by hand age 80–never haave to wash my hands 🙂

  2. BA Khanon 23 Aug 2018 at 10:56 am

    The first of the few lines are the heart of the poem and so it all tells you a lot about the poet.
    There is a self within the self an once one leaves the shell out, he finds the real self.
    All the rest is a facade, a trance or just like a dream. This life is just like a bubble of rain and the bubble bursts only its water mixes with water and the rest is gone whence it came from.

    Thanks for sharing it.
    BA Khan

    PS.
    Dear Ivan..
    I hope you are now feeling better.

  3. Nicky Mendenhallon 23 Aug 2018 at 11:14 am

    Dear Ivan,

    I love that you published this Pat Schneider poem – I love her work and didn’t know of this particular one. What a great poem!

    Looking forward to your new book that I have already ordered!

    Warmly,
    Nicky

  4. Annaon 24 Aug 2018 at 6:28 am

    An ordinary day.

    Another plasma cloud from the Sun.
    Boom-boom….
    Another blast in my heart,
    A Big Bang…

    The whole body is in fire,
    crystal white photonic particles,
    burning, burning everything on their path,
    the ego, the emotions, the beliefs, the mental ideas,
    even the flesh, deep, deep to quantum level…
    and beyond…

    …to Nothingness,

    where time, space and

    Everything

    dissolve,
    disappears…collapse, colliding…

    no thoughts…no words…no feelings

    …and in the next moment appears again…

    As Everything…

    ~

    Ancients knew about this…
    as I remember,
    there was a poem about Shiva –
    the Destroyer and the Creator.

    ~

    Our mind is simply a binary code, 0 and 1.

    I AM and I AM NOT,

    alive and dead,

    fast…fast…faster…

    more and more fast, fast,

    the processing of constantly flowing data stream is so fast,
    soooo fast, that our linearly working brain is unable to notice the difference,
    we think and feel our sense of self and surroundings static…
    but it is not.

    ~

    Can’t stay upright, extreme exhausted, the head and everything around me is spinning,
    like in Dervishe’s dance, laying in bed, close eyes and even the breathing is slowing down…

    Unable to do dishes…or anything…

    An ordinary day.

  5. Alice Whooleyon 24 Aug 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Just beautiful.

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