I’ve been thinking about dying. Listening to myself breath, with more than usual effort. Listening–thinking about dying–I ask myself–if it were only to begin something–what would I like to do before I die?
I feel inside this question, another one, in hiding. Another question wrapped in the first
What is it I have wanted, and not found?
What has been missing for me, that it took me so long to begin doing what I have felt was my real calling, and which, even now–the lack, speaks back to me, but this time in a form I’m beginning to recognize.
If only there had been someone to listen…
What if we were to make together, a circle (or circles) of Elders and Mentors for artists–poets? — certainly not an organization, not quite a movement–though that would come closer–especially for creative fields that don’t now have this as a more natural part of their development (I’m thinking of dancers, or musicians–poets sometimes find this). But for these too–I can imagine such a mentoring. I ask myself: what would it be? What do I feel, might have made my life … more true?
What would these mentors, do?
That’s what comes to mind, and everything else shapes itself around that. Listen. Not teach. To encourage, yes, but out of a deep listening that hears what the younger artist may not yet hear themselves. Mentors who would be there for the artist to speak to — from the heart–to tell about what they want to do, hope for themselves, what they are perhaps least sure of–or most anxious about how they will be received in the world.
Not pretend to know better than the younger artist, what they want for themselves. To listen in confidence to the their most daring ideas, what they are most confident–or most anxious– about.
To them talk about their work In the conviction that in being heard, we hear most clearly–our own voice, see most clearly our own, deepest vision. And return, more ready to present the gift that is ours alone–whether created alone, or in collaboration, the gift that is ours to leave the world on our parting.