Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
U is for…
utinam – (u.ti.nam) n. fervent or earnest wish
I’ve never been particularly interested in visioning where I want to be in 5 or 10 years. But a while ago I was invited to envision what I’d like to see in 100 years. Now that’s something I can get into.
I was surprised to discover that in knowing what my vision is, how much that made room for me to find ways to uphold those things in my current life. I should have known that, and I suppose I did – that’s really what the work of discovering and living your values is all about isn’t it? So many of us do that on a much shorter-term level when we choose (or are chosen by) a guiding word for the new year. We invoke our energetic address and then see how it unfolds as we hold that energy. Such magic there!
I suppose perhaps my utinam is a bit utopian, but the heart knows what it wants, and this is mine…
I envision a world where:
All beings are operating with conscious connection to Source and embodying their Divinity.
Unity consciousness and celebration of diversity are the foundational principles that are expressed fully as harmony, peace, love, and joy.
There is equitable sharing of resources and unified commitment to caring for the Earth and all its inhabitants.
Gratitude, beauty, grace, kindness, and inspired action are everyday currencies and all beings know they are greatly loved and infinitely supported.
This is the world I want; this is the world I fervently wish to be part of; this is the world I have a responsibility to create. And I believe it’s important to acknowledge that personally and publicly on a regular basis.
I believe we need to hold ideals to lean into and ground through our living. I think it’s helpful to have a 100-year vision, knowing we won’t be around to see it (at least not in this particular incarnation). I think that invites us to be more expansive and release some of the self-centeredness that seems to be such a prevalent influence on our collective these days. I think we all need not only to envision a better world, but devote our energies to creating it.
Of course, to be fair, despite my little riff here, utinams don’t have to be reserved for 100-year vision kinds of things. Any heart-felt wish can claim such status.
In late April, skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere get a chance to view the Lyrid meteor shower, and this past weekend was prime viewing time. Where I live is far too light-polluted for great night sky sightings, but this particular annual shower is the dusty trail of a comet with a centuries-long orbit around the sun. Just the thought of that fills me with awe and delight.
But it also made me think about the cross-cultural practice of wishing on falling stars. The origins of this practice are lost in the mysteries of time, but back around 125 AD, the ancient Greek astronomer/mathematician Ptolemy wrote that occasionally, out of curiosity or perhaps even boredom, the gods peer down at earth from between the spheres. It was thought that at these times the stars would “slip” and wishing at this time when the gods were watching, offered the possibility that they would hear your requests and grant them.
I’m not sure how we moved from wishing on falling stars to the idea of wishing on the first star spotted in the night, but the nursery rhyme “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight” is a charming encouragement to turn your eyes to the night sky and give voice to those utinams, isn’t it?
There are folktales also that tell of three wishes being offered to people, who generally manage to screw us such boons ridiculously. But the idea of three wishes lead me to wonder if I could think of three poet’s fervent wishes (this being National Poetry month and all), and these are three favorites I came up.
- Mary Oliver –
“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood…
Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads”
- Kurt Vonnegut (admittedly known more widely as a novelist, but as he did pen the occasional poem, poet status is unreservedly awarded in my book) –
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
- Jack Gilbert –
“We must risk delight. . . We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. . .
We must admit there will be music despite everything.”
To my mind each one of those is a wish I’d be willing to hold.
May every utinam I hold in my heart be one I pursue with my actions.
What about you? Have a fervent wish? Have a 5- or 10-year vision? Do you wish on stars? Do tell – you know I want to hear.