Couple of weeks ago I was consoling a friend who had been going through some rough patches lately. He then recalled a story that his father had told him when he was younger relaying the fact that no matter what we wish for, life always has ups and downs in store for all of us. And the story goes like this:

“A family in a rural area had two young daughters who got married about the same time to two up and coming young men and moved to their village somewhere not too distant.  After a while, their mother sends her husband on a mission to go and check on their daughters and son-in-laws to see how they are doing and if they may need anything. The father goes and visits each of the couples and when back, his wife asks him about their life situation and whether all is going well for them.
The father says, look one of them has planted much rice in their paddy and told me that it’ll be great if they get a descent amount of rain this year. On the other hand, our other son-in-law who has planted wheat was praying for a good dry weather and much sunshine this year. So, you see my dear, no matter what happens it won’t be a perfect life situation; but life goes on perfectly.”

This simple story illustrates the wisdom that true happiness results from living life without getting too attached to life situations and to our desired outcomes. In other words, getting out of our own way and letting life live through us as spoken in the poem below.

Few days later, another dear old friend shared a poem by Roger S. Keyes [1] which beautifully conveys the same wisdom and guides us to let life live through us, no matter what our life situation might be. I love to share it with you here and to invite you to let yourself be immersed in its beauty and wisdom. This poem is inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s [2] drawings:

Hokusai Says” – poem by Roger S. Keyes

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,

every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

    You can also listen to Roger Keyes reading the poem:

    1. Roger S. Keyes (1942 – ) is an American professor of East Asian studies.
    2. Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) is regarded as one of the most influential and creative minds in the history of Japanese art.  His unique social observations, innovative approach to design and mastery of the brush made him famous in Edo-period Japan and globally recognised within a decade of his death.
    3. For more on Hokusai’s art see “There’s no end to seeing” (with gratitudes to The Awakened Eye blog).