Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts on poise

The other day, while driving off the ferry into downtown Seattle, we passed some old friends from Shaw Island, and stopped to chat with them a while.

Later, on the way to the airport, I mentioned that my mother would have greatly admired the woman's poise, and somehow we found ourselves in a discussion about the word "poised." I said I found it interesting that the word had two different meanings -- poised for attack or takeover, and poised like a young woman, but my husband insisted they were actually the same meaning.

Hmm, I thought. I just couldn't quite see it. We shared the discussion with friends, but came no closer to resolving this issue, so it's been sitting on a back burner in my mind, simmering quietly as the week goes by.

And then, this morning, I read John O'Donohue's introduction to his Threshold Blessings in To Bless the Space Between Us, and found this:

"At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres."

Suddenly I could see how the two meanings of "poised" were the same. Because we think of the phrase "poised on the threshold," I could begin to understand that the country or company poised for attack or takeover is not just literally waiting at the boundary to begin; it is balancing on a precipice between waiting and action; there is impending and intense motion in the stillness.

And the young woman, practicing poise with the book on her head, is also balancing, standing on that boundary between youth and adulthood, between life in a family and life in the world; her poise implies both an inner stillness and an intense readiness for action, for change, that intensity giving a shimmering quality of anticipation to the waiting.

This, I think, is Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now, that sense of being totally in the moment, balancing in a present that will always be tipping into the future; an intensity and quality of stillness that implies incipient motion.

Are you poised? And if so, on what threshold do you find yourself today?

1 comment:

Mary S. Hunt said...

looks like you caught a faeiry !