Moments of Inspiration

May 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Poetry, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
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Last Friday night, Barton and I heard poet David Whyte, keynote speaker for Lifelines: Poetry for Our Patients, Our Communities, Ourselves Conference at Duke Medical Center. And of course, knowing us, it was not without adventure. As part of the OLR Roundtable Discussion Group, I had gone earlier in the morning to hear David Whyte speak to medical students in grand rounds at Duke Medical Center. Within an hour, I was literally transformed as I listened to David Whyte’s words.

Knowing that Barton would be at another conference in downtown Raleigh, and not expecting him to make the Friday evening talk, I asked David to sign a poem I had printed out (of course Barton has all his books on Audiobooks, and to be honest, we did not have one hardcopy).

After the morning talk, I had some time to myself and ended up at Duke Gardens, camera in hand. I found an off-beaten trail that lead to a quiet stream. Behind some rocks, I noticed a duck and her chicks swimming in a small pool, and sat on a rock at the edge. I was mesmerized by the fledglings, dipping their tiny heads just under the surface, the clacking of their small bills along the reeds at the edge of the pond, and their mother’s awareness as other strangers walked by. Eventually one chick scrambled out of the pond, and the mom totted the other two under her breast.

In that instant, and probably even before this moment, I realized I could not hear David Whyte without Barton. I just couldn’t. Period. I left the conference early, racing back to Raleigh in hopes to meet Barton. Now along the way, I tried to call him as Barton was on the buses back home (the buses cannot be relied on for any timely thing). Not only that, but most of the time, I have a 95% recall for Barton’s speech, which dramatically reduces down to 10% or less if we are both on cell phones and I am in the car. I won’t tell you how fast I was driving, and all I could think was I had to make it home before the 5pm Friday traffic began.

A divine moment- we arrived home at exactly the same time. Ten minutes and we were back out the door on the way. We were going to make it- together.

Inspiration isn’t just about a person, a place or event, it is about our interaction with it, and David Whyte mentions this interaction as a conversation. There is the conversation and interaction with our relationships, work and ourselves.  

There was no one else I had wanted to share this experience with, in the particular place, at this particular time. And when it all came together, alchemy ensued.

Sitting there next to Barton, we are both blown away by the meditative poems, powerful words, funny stories and thought-provoking messages. These were things we needed to hear- right now, at this particular time. One passage that stuck in my mind was “Start close in. Don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take…” How meaningful as both Barton and I are embarking on potential new work, individually and together. 

Afterwards, Barton asked him about powerful questions, which makes so much sense, but I had never thought of the direct connection. This was especially important to Barton as he begins his coaching work, of which powerful questions are essential to assist a person engaging in conversation with their lives.

The rest of the conference was powerful as well with a powerful discussion among a few writers, presentations by many incredible writers in the field, talk and reading with Jane Hirshfield accompanied by a symphony of thunder and lighting, Open Mic reading which lasted long into the evening, and Master Class with Jane Hirshfield where she talked about her revision process and work-shopped selected poems. There was much to take from the conference and look at integrating into my own writing, work and life. What an inspiring weekend!


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