The Difficulty of Being Human

by | Jan 21, 2019

By Keith Baughman

Healing has at its core an aspect of accepting yourself. Acceptance at this level is layered and complex. Many weeks ago a phrase skipped across my thoughts: the difficulty of being human. Not only does it invert and energize the identifier of “human being,” it also undermines the deeply embedded notion in me that life should be easy and I’m just doing it wrong. As I continue to look through the lens of this phrase, my path to self-acceptance becomes clearer, and I begin to see that human difficulty is part of the natural order. It’s how we’re made, and we’re made this way for a reason.

Writing poetry is the mode or field where these internal conversations often get their first articulation. The difficulty of being human spilled onto a journal page one day without much to suggest its timely relevant weight. But as the days passed, and as I continued to journal, this phrase preoccupied my thoughts and ways of seeing the world within and around me. The following poem is an articulation of the permission, purpose and support this phrase has offered to my struggle to heal and accept myself.

Being Human

Your heart is the eye
of the buffalo that dreams you
It is the prairie and the grass
that feed the buffalo
And it is the sun and rain
that feed the grass
It is the wind that sings
a hollow song there
It is the stillness there
on moonless nights

Forest, Rays

Your heart does not move
even as it moves you
It is a frontier and a forest
with an emerald core
It does not move,
waver or turn away
It is the eye of the buffalo,
the fire that dreams you

Can you surrender to the dreaming eye
to become hidebound to be buffalo
to become animal earth and sky
Can you dissolve into wind and light
among the clouds as they spool and vanish
And will you catch the cool draft of the ancestors
as they pass by trailing songs for you
to breathe into your bloodstream

Will you walk through this fire
that is both doorway and destination
that offers you your demise and salvation
that is the pathway of becoming
of seed opening toward flower
like all the ways of not being human
conspire to make you human

Keith Baughman is initiated, along with his wife Michele, as a quiapequiz (Weather Worker in the Nahua tradition of central Mexico.) He is often found volunteering at the Blue Deer Center, Sacred Fire’s sister organization located in the New York Catskills.

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