‘No preparing is wasted” William Stafford’s poem ‘Like Whitman’

We close out our week with William Stafford with a poem of his written on August 27, 1943:

If any time was used preparing
No preparing is wasted.
No preparing at all is wasted.
I am meeting you wherever you are.
I am on my way.
Do not let the distance and the time
Of that way influence you.
I am coming toward you.
Do you know anything of the breakers?
(Whatever holds back, outside and inside)
Do you realize no preparation is ever wasted?
(I am coming toward you).

This is another of his early morning poems, his ritual of writing a poem every morning – an inspiration for anyone who has tried 40 Days of Change For Good. Note the date – written in 1943. This was during WWII when Stafford was in a prison-like work camp for conscientious objectors. The conditions in this camp caused a lifetime of bitterness for many of the objectors. For Stafford, it was the ground where a seed of openness to life sprouted. That’s just the kind of man he was. However, I’ll venture that his ritual is the key to unlock his innate openness. He was preparing a life well lived and well written, and as he says above, no preparing is wasted.

I play music in a variety of settings and prepare for each of them. Not everyone in those groups goes through the same level of preparation, and I experience frustration. But I’ve noticed over time how true those words that honor persistence, ‘no preparing is wasted’. Every moment of preparation goes into the savings account of experience and expertise and each project somehow aids the others. I don’t know how, but it’s not for me to know, only be grateful for the cross-polination. I experience this as well when I prepare for some trainings that I haven’t led in a while. I over-prepare, but I’m usually thankful I do.

And the preparation does something else – it allows me to more fully enter the music, the training content. It allows me to come to you, to ‘meet you wherever you are’. This blog is a form of preparation – it’s a savings account of words from my heart and mind. The 40 Days to Change for Good ritual is another way of depositing into the savings account. The interest from these accounts builds on the deposits and I notice over time – months, years – that I’m more comfortable writing and meeting you wherever you are.

We are both on our way – don’t let time and distance dissuade you from that fact. No preparing is wasted.

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