I was handed a gift last Friday with a simple word on a sticky attached to the wrapping paper. The word was Netzach. I could tell it was a book, but which one? The author is Alfred Lansing and the book is entitled: Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage. It tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackelton and his crew of twenty seven who attempted to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.
The expedition comes to a very decisive halt as the ship (dubbed the Endurance) sinks and leaves the twenty eight men stranded in the middle of the Antarctic in the dead of winter. It is a story of amazing tenacity—all twenty eight men survive a rescue that took more than a year. The ‘rescue’ did not happen from the outside, rather they rescued themselves.
As I reflect on this week of Netzach—our plan for change is in motion and we are beginning to encounter the internal and external obstacles that are an inevitable part of our commitment to change, I began to wonder about the lessons to be learned from this story of extreme willfulness to survive. While it is easy to think that without the cook, or the navigator or the captain no one could have survived, it is a story of the importance of how each man kept himself alive by keeping everyone else alive. The men acted as a unit.
So, as we reflect this week on the obstacles to our plan–look around. Perhaps there are others who are more than willing to be of help—and the obstacle we may well need to overcome is the obstacle of not asking for help. As I was writing this blog one of our students emailed me this poem:
Everything is Waiting for You
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, Everything is Waiting for You