By: Kyle (Elden) Heyesen
It’s a new year. Filled with new possibility and resolutions galore! A concept I’ve been exploring and come back to over and over is that of being awake, awakening, waking up in our lives. I once came upon a line from an e.e. cummings poem that I was taken by: Unbeing dead isn’t being alive! Damn, he’s right. Just not being dead doesn’t make us truly alive, awake to what our lives hold possible for us. Too often we are on autopilot, disconnected from a greater purpose, blocking ourselves from our potential, deadened to the awareness of the simple, beautiful and both extraordinary and ordinary joy that is available in every moment of life. Another poem that speaks to this is from Rumi: The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you, Don't go back to sleep! You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep! This has me pause, think about waking up, staying awake and asking for what I really want in my life.
A little over a year ago I had a poem come to me which first unfolded as “The Million Ways to Avoid Awakening” focusing on the realization that although there are circumstances in all of our lives that are beyond our control, that may be difficult, unfortunate, and heartbreaking – when I’m really honest with myself many of the ways I haven’t realized some outcome, some success, some change I would like: I’m the one responsible. Yikes! Surprise! It’s on me!! There are a million excuses to not awaken, a million ways to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, to turn away from possibility – even when there’s something you are being called to. Looking at awakening first asks the question, in what ways am I asleep in my life? Do I feel stressed and frustrated, am I full of anger and un-forgiveness towards somebody, do I keep gaining weight, am I drinking too much, watching too much TV, when was the last time I was truly filled with joy and gratitude? Awakening doesn’t necessarily have to be something dramatic, although it can be. It can be simply choosing to take a walk, practice yoga, hit the gym, meditate, pray, or read a good book instead of watching the 5th episode in a row of that addicting Netflix series you’re into. Doing something that brings you into full contact with your life, brings a deep sense of fulfillment and opens up joy within. But, maybe this is something bolder like leaving that job you hate, the relationship that isn’t working, writing that book, training for that marathon, taking that trip, taking a leap in your life towards something big you’ve always dreamed of. Awakening can take so many forms.
So, this poem that began in its first rough draft as the ways I avoid awakening, turned into just Awakening….first journeying through the experience of how I am the one that turns away from or avoids awakening, I’m the one that delays joy in my own life….and then moves into the experience of awakening…
I want to note that in this poem, in the incredible experience of being awake, and connecting with a deep sense of joy, it may seem abrupt and crude that I have this take place amidst ice covered sidewalks, piles of frozen dog shit (yikes she swears), and wind-chill….but, this is the reality of our human experience. We will always have difficulty, struggle, frustration, and nasty aspects of life…..However, it is fully possible to recognize and experience being awake and filled with joy even alongside that. The light with the dark! Whatever your spiritual beliefs, or religious convictions - it is my experience and understanding that awakening & being filled with joy in this way is the outcome of being in relationship with God!
When you are called to awaken
sometimes, sometimes you turn your gaze away
you do not go.
The dawn break daylight fills your room
opens possibility, unfurls promise
the birds sing and sing you
the sun strains your eyes
you shut the windows
draw the shades, pull the covers
over your head, go back to sleep.
When you are invited to awaken
the alarm does sound but
shut it off
drift back to sleep underneath
the dark heavy lids of your
What if today were different,
what if this is the moment to awaken
what if you don't delay joy
like a child tearing into a present,
in fury and gladness
the gift of their desire shining
so much is possible
tear into your precious life.
push down on that button, the arrow
pointing in the direction forward,
the click, the hum, the music
of joy coming in on surround sound
and find yourself dancing everywhere,
even on ice covered sidewalks
and around frozen piles of dog shit in
twenty-five below wind-chill
the music of joy IS coming in
on surround sound.