The Surprising Power of the Image

"A discipline of calling up an image is an old form of contemplation," says David Whyte in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.

Sometimes it is less a discipline than a must for our wholeness.

Like the time of the white dove.

Oh, thinking back now, I imagine it was a lost New York City pigeon who showed up on my suburban street that day. She stood in the middle of the road, and a big old car came along, and that bird simply would not move. The car slowed, then stopped, honked its big scary horn, and the white pigeon turned its back and kept standing there. Finally, after what seemed like a long time, the car drove around it.

I had been struggling at work, with an older man who was giving me unwanted attention. Lots of whispered talk I won't get into. Graphic stuff that was making me scared. When he told me he'd seen me walking, and seen me driving, I realized he was following me around after hours.

Understand, I'd had a lot of unwanted attention in my life. From age five, when I had to turn away a step-brother who'd overstepped a big boundary, to age twenty-one, when I got fired because someone had said incredibly lewd things to me (and tried to carry them out); he then went to the boss and said I might come and accuse him of something that never happened (and so, yes, I was the one who got fired with no notice). There'd been other situations too. So I had a hard time when it started up in this case... not just mentally, but also because I desperately needed the job. It got to the point where I could barely face each morning.

Enter the immovable white dove.

I watched that bird and I suddenly knew everything I needed to know. Not in an intellectual way, but in an emotional-strength way. The next day I told the older man, in no uncertain terms, to leave me alone, to stop following me, to stay in line.

David Whyte says this too... "It is extraordinary how much of the power carried by the image itself will be present in our voice."

Yes, it must have been.

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Blogger Maureen said...

This is why we've been given poetry, and the ability to declaim it aloud.

Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

I think sometimes that's the nature of the discipline in general -- it's a must for our wholeness.

We just look at it as some extra thing to do.

And this piece, image and all, is powerful all by itself.

Blogger Thoughts for the day said...

Good job for picking up courage and becoming strong~wonderful imagery and story.

Blogger diana said...

Wow. Amazing connection, powerful image, such good story-telling. Thank you.

Anonymous Monica Sharman said...

I need to call up images like this. I tend to call up images that don't help me at all.

Thanks very much. I've never been fond of city pigeons, but now I'll see them differently.

Blogger Halfmom said...

reading, saying hello


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