This Is What You Shall Do

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body." —Walt Whitman

I close my eyes,
After the chant,
I get this image in my head of a penny in my hand,
A lucky penny at that.
The surroundings of nature embrace my meditative state of mind.
Sitting in the chair in this room; I'm sitting alone.
“Leaves of Grass” the words appear everywhere.
Bold and Loud; the depth of this meaning.
Blank walls but words written around.
I'm still thinking about why I have this imaginary penny in my hand.
Context clues come into play.
Leaves of Grass,
Grass and leaves,
Like sea to waves,
Water to Oceans
Were created to leaves and grass.
You create it how you see it.
I'm sitting here imagining pulling out books and reading one word out of each book.
It's called imaginary play.
Everyone's definition to leaves to grass is a picture you puzzle together.
A strategy to science;
Like clouds and water, the words that the universe sent to the table to end this page.

—Desiree Romero

What am I Going to do About It?

The world isn’t the way I want it to be.
The world is just as it is.
What am I going to do about it?


The world isn’t the way I want it to be.

My feet are on top of the world
massaging it, sensing it…
I can feel it’s sharp ridges,
then another sharpness—
knives, bullets, shrapnel,
angry words, insults, bullying.

I can feel its openings—
chasms that separate land,
separate countries,
separate people.
Lives shattered,
hearts and promises broken.

I can feel its wetness—
tears of pain, sorrow, loss,
tears of insolation, abandonment, regret.
Waters flooding homes, lives,
washing away belongings and memories.

The world is just as it is.

I can feel its ridges,
places where hearts and lives are mended,
where differences are celebrated,
where bridges are built to connect.

I can feel its openness.
Minds and hearts opening to love.
Arms opening to hugs and healing.
Borders opening to welcome all home.

I can feel its wetness.
Tears of joy at birth and renewal.
Tears of joy as war turns to peace.
Parched lands restored,
Parched hearts revived.

My feet are on top of the world,
dancing with joy
to the healing rhythms of Mother Earth.

The world is as I want it to be:
gratitude upon gratitude. 

Elena Rivera


These lines aren’t the way I want them to be.
I want the second line to be first: “The world is just as it is.”
That’s where I need to start.
Not with what I want, but with things as they are.
Trying to understand the world just as it is,
that’s a lifetime’s work and I’m still working on it.
I still don’t get it.
These days, it seems like we all want something different.
Some people want all the thugs off the street.
Others want to be able to live their lives in peace without being harassed and killed by people who see them as thugs.
Some people want all the foreigners to go away somewhere, anywhere. Away.
Other people have nowhere to be.
Their homes are destroyed and they can’t go there anymore.
They want somewhere to be.
Some people want to be safe from insults, bullying and anger.
Other people want to say whatever they think, whenever they want to say it.
The world just as it is?
It’s a mess.

What am I going to do about it?

Donna Dechen Birdwell


I mentioned that if someone wrote a screenplay about the world as it is, no one would believe it.

Then I started thinking about what the world might be like if it was how people would like it to be. I'd like to eliminate all the meat and candy from Central Market. And also all the wine. Who needs that stuff anyway? People just do the wrong thing when they drink.

But then D came by and he wanted peanuts… just peanuts, so then the world changed and CM had only peanuts. And so on. So that might really be crazy if things were how we’d like them to be.

Actually, in retrospect, our delusions often let us believe that the world is how we’d like it to be… for those incredibly short moments. Even today, I mentioned that I was 1/2 of my world. A crazy delusion!

Yesterday I was talking to T about the way it is, and he mentioned another aspect that I didn't even consider. What it is is not just what we read about in geology and biology textbooks. It is also how we feel about it. So I'm driving on Interstate 35 and there is lots of traffic. That is what is. And I'm feeling frazzled… mad, wishing that I had left a few hours earlier before all these people got out of bed. So "what is" is not just the traffic... it is my mind agonizing over what is. Imagine someone looking down onto Earth. Someone who only observes and doesn't react. She would see you and me and the cars... And we'd all be what is.

And then the tough question. What will I do about it? I can run, I can endure, or I can change. Or I can do nothing. Just sit there like a “bump on a log,” as my sisters would say when one of us wouldn't play.

There is an event coming soon that I would rather didn’t happen. I can avoid it, hoping it will just not be. I can go, but not really go, hoping that I can satisfy both the need to go and not go, or I can really go, fully embracing the situation authentically.

Complaining and disparaging might take place. Bad qi might permeate the space. Is that doing something about it? Or is it just wishing that things were different? And if things were just like we’d want them to be, would we like that? Or would we complain about that too?

My house is too small. No room for a ping pong table. Next day, when vacuuming, the house is too big. No time for anything but cleaning it. And on and on.

So I guess facing the music is all that I can do. I can embrace and embody things as they are. That's all we have to work with. I can observe it, and me within it, reacting, responding, hating or loving. I’m a half of what is... It is real to me, but not for you.

Do we live in the same place? Hardly. But we can meet somewhere, somehow, and dance with the stars.

Kim Mosley