Only You Can

Some time ago, one of my colleagues told me that he kept a list of things that “no one else can do for you.”  The example he gave me was “no one else can kiss your kids goodnight for you.”  I’ve thought of this many, many times when Gabe is already in bed, one of us has done the elaborate bedtime routine, I am so ready for my day to be over, and he comes out of his room for “one more hug.”  Or he sends a message downstairs to where I am already snuggled up, pillows perfectly arranged, book at the ready, that he wants me to come back upstairs to say goodnight.  Again.

Gabe in the Smokies

And I always go, because every time, I remember what my colleague said.  No one else can kiss your kids goodnight for you.

The idea that there are things in your life that only you can do is really, really fascinating.  The basic premise is that anyone can do things like mow your lawn or fix your car, but no one else can learn for you, grieve for you, love for you. 

I’m going to write more about this in tomorrow’s post, but I wanted to give you a little preview so that you have time to think about it, and how it relates to your life.  Do you agree that there are things no one else can do for you?  Do you believe that there are things other people can do for you?  For example, you could argue that no else can mow your lawn for you–only you can do it in the way you would do it.  And what are the things that only you can do?

I just love this question.  More to come tomorrow!

Everything is Waiting for You

 (After Derek Mahon)

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone.  As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.  All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.

 David Whyte

6 thoughts on “Only You Can

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  1. My husband’s father died this morning. He cared for his father for two weeks and was sitting next to him, talking gently to him, as his father took his last breath. No one else could have done that for him.


  2. Thank you for your post and for David Whyte’s poem.

    It reminds me of Tracey Emin and her bed – the work won the 1999 Turner Prize in Britain.

    She chose to present it as it was at the end a three day binge on drugs and alcohol – pretty disgusting (she did say she had ‘rearranged it a bit…after all I am an artist’.)

    She said she’d had a sudden insight about her bed – that it had supported her through three days of hell.


  3. First things first – Gabe is adorable! Just adorable! And how I miss the kids calling out to me for just one more thing. You will one day miss this aggravating activity. The poem was just so amazing and reflects how I was feeling today. Visiting your blog is like a attending a small worship group. Thanks!


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