Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #83:

“The climax in the poem of trouting, is the spring of the split bamboo.”

Lewis France-1884

After the initial bite of the trout on the bait, and then those first few rushes from the pull and struggle of the fish, the fly fisherman, with the rod’s safety on, gently presses one thumb upon the line and feels the spring of the bamboo rod, as this action quickly kills the fish. The above fishing quote calls the process the “poem of trouting,” and describes the use of a split bamboo rod as essential for this fishing accomplishment.

We might find this poetic notion quite unromantic, more a brutal action, but, nevertheless, in the fisher’s world this is sheer poetry. Generally speaking, and in spite of such a harsh example as an illustration of poetry, our own lives would be far better off were we to think more poetically than with prose. With poetry we tend to see so much more – we broaden our horizons – and then we are more capable of deeper learning and more profound understanding. We are less defensive when we are able to grasp the esoteric, allegoric, or metaphorical stream of thought than we do from the solely straight logical realm.

This is why storytelling, fables, poems, and even satire can open us up when straight forward or logical approaches prove ineffective. Often the straight forward doesn’t work because we are too resistant. A friend once told me that he and six work buddies decided to go to a hypnotherapist for a group quite-smoking session. When they got to the therapist’s office one of the men changed his mind and so the therapist told him to sit in the waiting room. The therapist then left his office door ajar and went about treating the other men. When the session ended the guy who had stayed in waiting room was cured from his smoking, as well. His resistance vanished as he overheard the entire hypnotic process better than if he had entered the therapist’s office.     

We are inclined to rely mostly on prose and with front door approaches. I’ll go even further and say we easily get preoccupied with the bottom-line. In other words we are primarily linear thinkers. And as such we are blinded by our cause-and-effect approach – and easily lost in a predominately non-linear sea.

Life gets translated into accounting – the bottom line – the cost vs. payoff – and given to pros and cons. We use streak logic to decide who is in or who is out. We opt for things being lumped into either black or white, yes or no, simple answers. We assess people by the amount of money they make, their job or career position, the degree of education they have or lack thereof. We confuse celebrity for heroism.






We’ll base our opinion upon what a person wears, his/her hair style, their snappy sound bites, as opposed to what the a person stands for or what his/her character.

Not everything can be viewed from poetry or metaphor; occasionally we do need the bottom line, but poetry et al still offers a much richer, more expansive avenue for resolving life’s bigger questions. It offers alternatives from our habitual treadmill and vicious cycle of stuck ways. What I am getting at is that we cannot live our life solely from our heads. We must also use our hearts; that is if we are to find a more satisfying and more worthwhile lives, rather than merely a survival existence.

How does one measure the degree of love for another without the inclusion of one’s heart? Heart must enter into the equation. How else can we know the measure of one’s life exclusively from the vantage point of what one contributes toward the greater good without love? Ultimately, do we make the world a little bit better than it was before we arrived here on planet earth? This can’t be addressed without including our hearts. Such things, therefore, call for greater poetry. Prose alone falls way too short. When it comes to important matters the exclusively analytical fail us. We do not have words to even describe certain things. Words like: love, purpose, family, loyalty, community, bravery, forgiveness, justice, to name just a few.

You do realize I am not speaking of rhyme or strict poetry? It’s about the distinction of using our heads or our using our hearts in ways that matter.  What ultimately matters? This is a question each of us must answer for ourselves. Yes, there are those times we must use both in order to transform our world into becoming more life-giving. To do so we need to see our creative and artistic capacities.

We are way too limiting with our understanding about artistry and creativity. Some believe they are not artistic or creative. I believe we are all artists. Artists create; they expand; they expose; they enrich. We can help others and ourselves discover that creativity already resides within us.

The idea that the Creator encourages creativity is a radical thought to some. We, instead, tend to think or fear that creative dreams are egotistical, and not in alignment with what our Creator would approved of for us.

We’d do well to rethink this and see creativity as a natural aspect of our life, and that creativity is energy, or if you like, grace. To expand on this try seeing creativity as God’s gift to us; and that using our creativity is our gift back to God. Such a basic stand or philosophy means that as we move toward our dreams and creative expressions we also move toward our divinity.

Nonlinear thinking, transformation, Aha moments, having epiphanies, and loving no matter what: all are part of a spiritual approach to one’s life. I don’t care if you are a plumber, a lawyer, a house builder, a home maker, a painter, a writer, or a poet, you are an artist!

“It is within my power to serve God or not serve God. Serving God, I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not Serving God, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good, which was in my power to create.”                Leo Tolstoy

On this Thanksgiving weekend and while very much still in the midst of a global pandemic, we are perhaps awakened to take nothing for granted. Let us continue our reflections regarding those blessings we do have, that we are alive, and perhaps merely surviving, but alive nevertheless.

A prayer relating to this weekend might help. This one is taken from this week’s The Atlantic Magazine, called: a Coronavirus Prayer, and was written by JAMES PARKER:

“Dear Lord,

In this our hour of doorknobs and droplets,

when masks have canceled our personalities;

in this our hour of prickling perimeters, sinister surfaces,

defeated bodies, and victorious abstractions,

when some of us are stepping into rooms humid with contagion,

and some of us are standing in the pasta aisle;

in this our hour of vacant parks and boarded-up hoops,

when we miss the sky-high roar of the city

and hear instead the tarp that flaps on the unfinished roof,

the squirrel giving his hinge-like cry, and the siren constantly passing,

to You we send up our prayer, as follows:

Let not heebie-jeebies become our religion,

our new ideology, with its own jargon.

Fortify us, Lord. Show us how.

What would your saints be doing now?

Saint Francis, he was a fan of the human.

He’d be rolling naked on Boston Common.

He’d be sharing a bottle. No mask, no gloves,

shielded only by burning love.

But I don’t think we’re in the mood

for feats of antic beatitude.

In New York City, and in Madrid,

the saints maintain the rumbling grid.

Bless the mailman, and equally bless

the bus driver, vector of steadfastness.

Protect the bravest, the best we’ve got.

Protect the rest of us, why not.

And if the virus that took John Prine

comes, as it may, for me and mine,

although we’ve mostly stayed indoors,

well—then, as ever, we’re all Yours.

Until further notice,