Learn by Going

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
And learn by going where I have to go.

—–from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

japanese gardenRoethke’s poem is powerful and still. What does he mean with “I learn by going where I have to go”? Does he mean that his learning occurs when he goes where he must go to learn? That the teacher appears when the student is ready?

Does he mean that the only way for him to learn is to go through an experience and grasp it?

Both meaning work. We can’t ask Roethke anymore, he died of a heart attack while swimming in 1963. The pool he was swimming in was filled in and turned into a Japanese garden at Bloedel Reserve in Washington state. The image is from the Reserve’s website.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com. (c) 2007 All rights reserved.