Friday, November 16, 2012

taking a moment

One of the goals I have for myself during patient visits is to at some point pause and be still. Sometimes the patient talks through this intentional pause, sometimes not. The point of it is to make sure that I check in with myself, with what's going on inside me. Sometimes there is something useful happening in there that I'm not aware of. It's been a very productive practice for me.

I'm sure this goal of mine is part of the reason I can't get over this poem by Pablo Neruda that I found while flipping through Earth Prayers, this book that my boss in my graduate assistant position uses to open and close staff meetings. With all the frantic Big. Event. stuff going on seemingly everywhere I wish we could just, as a planet, count to twelve and be still for a moment.

Keeping Quietby Pablo Neruda  
Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still... 

 For once on the face of the earth,

let's not speak any language,

let's stop for one second,and not move our arms so much.  

It would be a exotic moment,without rush, without engines,

we would all be together in a sudden strangeness.  

The fishermen in the cold sea would not harm the whales

and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.  

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes 

and walk about with their brothersin the shade, doing nothing. 

 What I want shouldn't be confused

with total inactivity:

(life is what it is about,

I want no truck with death.) 


If we were not so single minded 

about keeping our lives moving,

if for once we could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness 

of never understanding ourselves 

and of threatening ourselves with death,

perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I will count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.


  1. Great goal and poem!

  2. Alissabeth - Is there a way to send you a message through this blog? I live in Seattle, and well, it's a long story that I can conflate and email you, but wanted to send you a msg if possible. Hope it's possible...

    1. Sure! If you click on my blogger profile you can email me. :)