The Touch of Life

A Day of Sunshine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

O gift of God! O perfect day:
Whereon shall no man work, but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!

Through every fibre of my brain,
Through every nerve, through every vein,
I feel the electric thrill, the touch
Of life, that seems almost too much.

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.

And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,
Where though a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,

Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Whose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.

Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
The fiery blossoms of the peach!

O Life and Love! O happy throng
Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
O heart of man! canst thou not be
Blithe as the air is, and as free?

True living is an oscillation between doing and being. If you lose the ability to rest, you will eventually lose the ability to live with any appreciable measure of peace.

The ability to “be” is the direct result of an untroubled heart. If you consistently let your heart be troubled (and it is a choice you make!), you slowly but surely will feel less and less capable of ever truly coming to rest. You may even grow critical of those who have not lost the ability to “be”, criticizing them for their idleness.

When you remember to let not your heart be troubled, you regain a sensitivity to the subtle pulsations of life that cue you to “be” or “do” in harmony with the larger background pulsations which animate all of creation. Absent the awareness of these pulsations your life will be a constant guessing game, a crap shoot of sorts, and you will forever feel slightly out of synch. Being in the right place at the right time will be the result of serendipity rather than of conscious living and life will forever seem to be throwing you curve balls, no matter how much you hope, beg or pray for an easy pitch straight over the plate.

Your can let your heart be “blithe as the air is, and as free” if you so choose. This does not mean you relinquish all concern for your field of responsibility, in fact, it only comes as you assume total responsibility for that which is yours to handle, doing that which can be done in the moment and being at rest in relation to those elements which are not yet ripe for completion. Minding your own business in this sense requires that you relinquish the attempt to mind others’ business, likewise, it requires that you eschew all forms of worry, for they weigh upon your heart unnecessarily.

Come to rest when you can today. Listen carefully for the little moments which are charged with “the electric thrill, the touch of life, which seems almost too much.” They come much more frequently than you might imagine if you are dead set on achieving.

8 thoughts on “The Touch of Life

  1. Steve Ventola

    I am amazed by the beauty of the words of Longfellow you are utilizing to declare the nature of life. This does make you think the character of life has always been available and sounding in years prior as well as today. I appreciate your words “You can let your heart be “blithe as the air is, and as free” if you so choose.” Treasuring the aspects of being and doing does put us in sync for surrendipity to most joyfully happen. Thank you for your words.


  2. Colin

    So many people treat the feeling that they are out of synch as a normal thing, but it is really a warning: you are out of synch! It’s not really that complicated, but you definitely have to relinquish control of every little detail to have the experience of synchronicity between being and doing. You have to live your life in the natural patterns around you, not forcing your will on the natural patterns.


  3. Coco

    Beautiful poem! Rest is an aspect to the art of being. In music a rest is an active part of the composition and often brings the accent to the phrase. I think it holds true in living as well. Thanks for a grand start to this day!


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