What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

trees denseWhen we have a decision to make we have a tendency to want an answer right away and feel compelled push our way forward. Yet in the moments when we feel most lost sometimes standing still is the best course of action. When we are calm and still within ourselves our higher self and higher inner guidance is able to reach us in a way it can’t when we are filled with the mental and emotional static of reacting to our situation. Here’s a poem that holds the wisdom of waiting from a place of knowing the best answer come to us if we let it.

Poet David Wagoner, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, has taken some of the stories the Native people tell and turned them into poems. One of my all time favorites, titled Lost, is based on what the elders of the village would tell the children to do if they were lost in the forest. In the Northwest, the dense forest grow right down to the sea’s edge so that it can be difficult to find your way through. I use this poem all the time when I realize that I trying to force things and really need to allow things to unfold in their natural way and timing. As all poetry does it speaks to our soul and deeper knowing.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

from Collected Poems 1956-1976
Indiana University Press.

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