When they sleep

I read a poem today, by the Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994) :

All people are children when they sleep.
there’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.
If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
– God, teach me the language of sleep.

half-open flowers

If only we could speak to each other then, when our hearts are like half-open flowers, what a difference that could make. What would you be saying differently do you think?

If…

BY RUDYARD KIPLING

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thank you Michael Neill for posting that poem. I liked it a lot. But given that I am not a son, or a man, I chose to ignore those words, and read ”you’ll be a Human being, my child!”.

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Read the poem again, and tell me if you can?

Who would I be…

Alexandra Rydholm posted a poem on her Facebook profile that was so wonderful I immediately asked her if I could credit her in this blog post. Here it is, the most lovely poem, by sculptor Paige Bradley, who makes amazing bronze sculptures as well:

”From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically un-contained?”
-Paige Bradley

I think a lot about containers, boxes, labels and classifications. I understand the need for them on one hand, not least because they make it easier to talk to each other. They provide a short cut, in a way, which save us from having to explain in more words, what can be summarized in just one. But on the other hand, they put up barriers, limits, restrictions and boundaries that, in many ways I believe, stop us from being all that I am, or at least all I can be.

All these definitions I can attribute to myself: woman, mother, wife, biologist, coach, book reader, blogger, project manager, change agent, caucasian, cat lover, amateur gardener, entrepreneur. And I am sure I can come up with many more.

With this list of attributes, I am assuming you are painting a picture of me in your head? Drawing conclusions as to who and how I am, as a person?

I mean, that’s what I do. But should I? Am I not restricting my ability to see the other person for who he/she truly is? And even worse – am I not restricting myself as well, by adding labels to me? I can honestly say I am more authentic and much more myself now, than I was 15 years ago. But the great thing is I am finding out more and more of myself with each passing day.

20130503-212823.jpgWho would I be to you, if I hadn’t provided you with these labels?

Who would I be to you, if you only saw 100% Helena?

Who would you be, if you strip off your own labels?