Start Close In


A strange day today – I’d hoped for Susan Schwartz’s and my book ‘Aging & Becoming ~ A Reflective Enquiry ~’ to be live on today or tomorrow. Or the next day – but that’s not going to happen. It’ll happen in a while – 

I was doing some catch-up at my desk earlier this afternoon, after a busy morning out and about. I was at sixes and sevens – much to attend to at my desk, some tasks achieved, diary somewhat updated, much still to do –

There are a couple of threads on FB that I follow, usually requiring more from me than I am able to give, or respond to adequately, or as I would like. These are psychological posts on FB. I came upon this one just now – it was from Parker Palmer, a columnist for ‘On Being’ and at the end of his post, he included David Whyte’s poem –

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first


close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

Start with

the ground

you know,

the pale ground

beneath your feet,

your own

way of starting

the conversation.

Start with your own


give up on other

people’s questions,

don’t let them

smother something


To find

another’s voice


your own voice,

wait until

that voice

becomes a

private ear


to another.

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow

someone else’s

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in,

don’t mistake

that other

for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

 My love to you all, may your Thanksgiving be happy and joyous ~ may there be peace and quiet amidst it all ~ and take the step also that you do want to take ~

36 comments on “Start Close In – David Whyte”

  1. This is such good advice, Susan! Often I’ve wasted entire days because I had one article to do–normally an hour’s worth of work, tops–but was unable to take that first step.

    Thankfully I’m cutting back on these dreaded tasks, but whenever I do finally start them, they’re never as bad as I’d imagined them to be.

    • Thanks for coming by J.H. I agree, it’s taking/making that first step that’s the tricky one! Yet once underway I always have to wonder why it took me so long to make that first step – strange!

      Good on you cutting down on dreaded tasks!

    • Thanks Shirley for coming by. Much succour to be gained by the wise ones, current and past. Thank you for saying about the book! That’s very good to hear and has me smiling this Saturday morning 🙂

    • Thanks Deborah for coming by. Yes they are perfect prose for these times. Timeless also. Thank you for your encouragement re the book appearing in the perfect time!

  2. I was reminded of a song that says, In His time, in his time, he makes all things beautiful in his time…. every purpose under heaven has a time.. this may not be the time for your book and I am sure when it happens it will be a perfect time, let there be love,joy and peace in your life and yes grateful to be connected to you. Love and hugs !!

  3. Thank you, Susan. I agree this poem is made for these times. Something small. Something kind. Something filled with love. On Tuesday, I led a bereavement group at a hospice where I’d never been. It was the last meeting for a gathering of people grieving for someone close who died within the last year. All those battered hearts and broken dreams as people faced their first “family” holiday without the person they most love. It was healing for me as much as them to share love, memories, light candles, offer flowers, and consider the small ways we take care of our hearts with personal rituals. My small step.

    I read this small Rumi poem to end our ritual–and then many others around the circle read it out loud. Many readings to remember the importance of a small moment of remembrance and connection.

    Your body is away from me
    but there is a window open
    from my heart to yours.
    From this window, like the moon
    I keep sending news secretly.
    – Rumi

    • The beautiful Rumi – thank you Elaine. How fitting. I can imagine your group and the healing that happened. Always essential to re-cognise and re-member – and a blessing that they had you to lead it from your own experience and your own person …

      May your Thanksgiving Day be blessed with warmth, friendship, joy, love, peace, creativity …. From my side I’m sending my gratitude to you …

  4. Thanks Susan – we need to quietly proceed with the things that need to get done, and then the weight falls away and we can get on … sometimes things are just there and we are involved, but can’t easily solve …we need to get through – being peaceful and accepting life as it comes our way … dealing quietly with time and moving on.

    Thanks for introducing us to David Whyte – interesting career he’s had, and thus thought provoking work … cheers Hilary

    • Thank you Hilary – you put it so well re how things come our way and we have to accept and proceed (hopefully peacefully, though this is often not so).

      I must check out David Whyte’s career … I never have. Will, when there’s time. All best to you, Susan

  5. Thanks for sharing the wonderful poem, one of my favorites. I attended a weekend presentation with him about a year ago and fell in love with his poetry. This one is pitch perfect and I can see why you picked it. Thank you, Susan. I don’t know if anyone in South Africa celebrates Thanksgiving, but even if you don’t, may you feel the gratitude and love that goes with it.

    • Thank you Jeanie. It is pitch perfect isn’t it 🙂 No, we don’t have Thanksgiving Day here in South Africa, though I think it would be a jolly good idea if it was an international day world wide – cause for us all to pause and give thanks and express gratitude and to show our love in whatever way we can. Thank you for your lovely wishes. Have a wonderful day!

  6. Boy, does the poem resonate with me….it is SO true. Avoiding taking that step only creates more problems. Thanks for the advice.

    Now, will your book be coming out in paper form or ebook form? I truly am looking forward to reading it! Now, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving, although do you celebrate Thanksgiving over there? You don’t have the same original reasons for being Thankful, but I’m sure you have much to be Thankful for now. Big Hugs!

    • Thanks for coming by Gwynn – glad you liked David Whyte’s poem … it stopped me in my tracks a bit.

      We don’t have a Thanksgiving Day as you do in the US, though I think it would be a great idea if it were a worldwide day .. to pause and give thanks for what we have and to think of those who don’t …

      The book will be an ebook – I plan to have paperback print copies made. It looks lovely also …

    • Lovely comment Marsha – a great thought re Thanksgiving being an international day of giving thanks – spread the ripples. I too am grateful for our friendship, thank you 😊

  7. It might be a blessing that your book isn’t on Amazon right now. For right or wrong, many people are beginning to boycott Amazon because they sell Trump products. Your book could get lost in the sauce, and through no failure of your own doing, never be noticed. Later, when things calm down a bit, your book will be seen by more people. Or so I would think.

  8. I can so identify with the words of wisdom found in this poem. It looks like we are experiencing a little bit of synchronicity. I too realised yesterday that the thing I was ignoring, which is the completion of my first manuscript, had to be dealt with, if I wanted to find my inner peace. I started with it just as this prose says and I have found peace.
    Thanks. You hit me right on target today, a bull’s-eye.
    Shalom aleichem, my dear.

  9. I definitely understand the sensation of “feeling behind.” Thank you for posting my favorite lines from David Whyte, a good reminder as I revise my memoir manuscript.

    Thank you too for the good wishes, Susan!

    • Thanks Marian – I know only some of DW’s poetry. When I read him I’m mostly amazed at the magnanimity in the simplicity. I thought this particular one was written for these times – which is the sense in which I read it. I guess that his poem is timeless actually, and maybe that’s a big part of its beauty ..

      Good luck with the revision – endless – in my experience 🙂

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