Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

We Are What We Choose to Be

--by Dawna Markova (Oct 12, 2015)

On rare and precious moments, someone will tell me about when he used to play the saxophone or when she used to dream about opening a halfway house for abused women or when he thought he could mentor boys in the inner city or when she was going to write a book about how she made it through her childhood. And they light up. There is no other way to describe what happens. Their cheeks flush, their bodies become animated, their voices are electric as they speak. For a moment, the clock stops ticking. Then they pause, shake themselves the way a dog does on a hot day after swimming in a cool lake, and they crawl back in their girdle, talk about money and time and reasons why not. "Well, (...) I am not the sort of a person who could just... I wouldn't feel like me that way." I watch heart failures as the clock begins to tick again.

My son once told me he didn't want to grow up to be a man because they all seemed like they were walking dead. I came back from being dead realizing we are totally free to live fully alive. Now. In this moment. Free to define ourselves. We are what we choose to be. I don't mean free to have. I mean free to be. I know many among us don't have sufficient nourishment, space, education. But I also remember learning how Nelson Mandela sang of freedom at the top of his lungs on a boat while being taken to prison. And I remember the Jamaican angel who swept the floors in a hospital and whispered words to me in the dark of the night that changed everything: "You are more than your fear." I know there are others among us who have more food than they can ever eat, bigger houses than they can ever occupy, more education than they can ever use, and still they suffer from spiritual insufficiency and lack of the kind of nourishment that a sense of purpose brings. Most of us would never dare sing at the top of our lungs on a boat for fear of being embarrassed! 

Parker Palmer (...) wrote, "No punishment anyone might inflict on us could possibly be worse than the punishment we inflict on ourselves by conspiring in our own diminishment."

Excerpted from Dawna Markova's book, "I will not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion."

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On Oct 10, 2015 david doane wrote:

Having and being are two different ways of living.  Having involves being goal directed, striving, holding on, possessing, accumulating.  Being is goal-less, non striving, letting go, allowing, not grasping.  I have things that are external to me, even if they are under my skin, like to have bigger muscles or to have more knowledge.  Being is me, the essence that is me.  It is said that freedom is another word for nothing left to lose which triggers for me that freedom is nothing left to have.  Being is not having, having is not being.  I have the freedom to both have and be.  I am a human being and a human having.  In my life, I've done a lot of having, and I find that being results in more satisfaction than having.  I feel I can choose being at any time including right now, and I am enjoying that freedom to be right now.  There are many aspects to me, fear being one of them, and I know the whole me is bigger than any of the aspects.  The many times I have given in to my fear and not been me result in sadness and regret that motivate me to override my fear and be me.  Listening less to the fear and going ahead with being me in spite of the fear helps me to realize that I am more than my fear.      

On Oct 10, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Many times we have read, heard and talked about  wisdom sayings like, " Know thy self"," An unexamined life is not worth living", "The essence of living truly lies in the heart of our cave". These are great words of wisdom for contemplation and reflection. We all know that to be truth is to live the truth freely and fearlessly.When we make it a goal to achieve it, have it, we are adding one more on the doing and having list. Being is like the sun rising giving its
light, the flower blooming giving its fragrance, the wind touching and the mother loving. Having has a beginning and ending bound by  space and time.In the having world-both internal and external, there is no wholeness and fullness. There is always that dear-like, chasing the mirage, there is always that striving, needing and wanting more and more. We are too familiar with this world of doing and having.

I have faced this question many times: What is my purpose for being here in this world? To be happy? My happiness was contingent on having someone to love me.Does it have that forever ingredient? Di I always feel loved and happy? To me the freedom is the freedom of being and not having. Having is more like having clothes but not the wearer. As I am getting older, my  "having world"  is shrinking effortlessly and my "'being world" is effortlessly expanding. In that "being world" there is I without being bound by my ego.When I step out of this being zone, I quickly become mindful of it and move into the being zone.

May we be awakened to be in the being zone! Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave

On Oct 11, 2015 Abhishek wrote:

Aliveness is a sign for me, of being in alignment with Life....and actions that are born from that space have a different flavour....

But when I think about "We" are what we choose to be, I also wonder who is this "We" (or I)....because if the I is the local ego then it is not really free - it is dedicated to its own survival and will make choices that allow its dramas to continue....and hook us....

On the other hand if the I is beyond, perhaps, we have a real much of that 'unconditioned 'I'' we can access is also a question...and a journey to be lived.... :)

On Oct 11, 2015 catherine wrote:

 i wonder if my vision, my feeling of "free to have or free to be " is not linked to my age... at a time, wisdom comes from experience. free to have has no more meaning for me except non attachment, "lâcher prise", and free to be is to let ourselves being with our true nature, to let love flourish from our heart, to feel confident in what is happening right now, and welcome it as it is, as a gift.. even with life's challenges there is always a way to cope with them when love and trust and joy are the fuel of our life..

On Oct 13, 2015 Sidney DeKoven wrote:

 When I stopped believing my thoughts, The whole wold started opening up for for me. I gained a positive attitude and anything became possible. Truly anything is possible if only one gets over the feeling of unworthiness. I believe the greatest barrier to enlightenment is this feeling of unworthiness and the attendant belief that I can't do it . It's too big. Beyond my capacity etc.  

On Oct 13, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 1000 times YES! As someone who has taken many risks to embrace who she is, All of it, I so very much agree! Here's to pursuing dreams no matter how crazy others may say we are. In 2005, I left my fulltime job to become a fulltime Cause Focused Storyteller. One month later, I sold my small home & most of my possessions to create/facilitate a volunteer literacy project in Belize. I had NO idea what I was doing, but I had enthusiasm and I listened A LOT to the locals. 7 years later I had donated programs for 33,000 students and trained 800 teachers how to use their own indigenous stories in their schools. A few years later, on a whim I auditioned for TED Talks Talent Search and somehow, I was chosen to represent the US region in their finals. Then I auditioned for a Storytelling Festival in Kenya and was chosen. Then a festival in Iran and I was the first American chosen to present. I am living proof that dreams come true. I am living proof that even with a tough childhood (my father tried to kill himself 5 times, my brother was alcoholic by age 14) one can persevere and make a different path. I have had my own challenges; bouts of Depression, recovered anorexic, but I have never given up on hope or on dreams. And if I can do it, YOU can do it! Here's to being FREE!

On Oct 13, 2015 dawna markova wrote:

 It's a delight reading this after having written it so long ago. My latest thinking just emerged in a new book written with my daughter-in-love-collaborator, Angie McArthur: Collaborative intelligence-Thinking With People Who Think Differently, just published by Random House.

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On Nov 9, 2018 judy wrote:


it is not the mother tree
but the soil that nurtures                    
from below
lifts  up 
holds steady
the cotyledon
making its small way
toward the light
the beginning can be bleak
stark in fact
the seed has 
within itself
what it needs
buried deeper than pain
tucked into a safe drawer 
harbored against neglect
or severest drought
the seed holds its own
it may take a storm
a heavy rain
a deep river seeping 
into hard ground
to allow
the casing to give way
the core to soften
but the seed
can well up
at any age 
into the self

judy carroll...newby poet at 72