Instructions for the Journey

by Pat Schneider


Original Language English

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

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/ Image by Alice Popkorn /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

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!



Book Pre-Orders Update

I want to send out a big thank you to everyone for the enthusiastic response to my announcement of the new anthology. Pre-orders for This Dance of Bliss have been coming in from all over the US and the world. I will soon be shipping autographed copies to India, the UK, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, and several other countries.

Your response has been overwhelming, and your many notes of support have touched me deeply. Thank you

The pre-order offer remains available until Sept. 1st. You can purchase and autographed copy of This Dance of Bliss at a discounted rate, while supporting the Poetry Chaikhana and future publications.

To read more and purchase a copy, click here--


This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology





A Note about Shipping Outside the US

Because I am personally inscribing these pre-order copies and mailing them out myself, international shipping rates and times apply.

If the international shipping rates feel prohibitive to you, This Dance of Bliss will also be available in late September through international book sites, like Amazon. The shipping costs from these sites may be less, if they have a location in your area -- though the discount will not apply, and you'd be missing out on my lovely autograph!

Kindle Edition

A Kindle ebook version of This Dance of Bliss will be available soon, as well.



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 >>





Instructions for the