By David Whyte
Since I was a teenager, I’ve had a small pile of books that are my ‘bedside books’. They live in my bedside table or my book-bag when I travel, and they are my go-to’s when I want to read something light, nourishing or inspiring. Currently the pile includes the Sufi Book of Life, The Pilgrim of Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (given to me by a dear client who is one of the most avid readers I’ve ever met) and Consolations by David Whyte. Of course, the pile has changed over time: back in my teens it included a tiny pocket-sized copy of As a Man Thinketh that my friend Warwick had given me and I still have, and Louise Hay. In more recent years it has included Thich Naht Hanh, John O’Donohue and of course Mary Oliver.
Literary sustenance I would call these books. Soul food. Heart-tending books.
They’re books you can pick up at any time, start anywhere, and sip from the nectar of wisdom and truth.
“Keep this book by your bedside forever. I know I will.”
David Whyte’s Consolations is no exception and is a beautiful book to have on hand for those moments. Wonderful nourishment. Life affirming. Lovely to fall asleep too.
In Consolations he talks of 52 everyday words following the alphabet, from alone to destiny to procrastination to work. He talks of rest, friendship, nostalgia and solace.
“One of the wisest, most ennobling things I’ve read in my entire life.”
I think of David Whyte as a mystic and poet. He unabashedly describes life and the human experience without coating it with any candy or cynicism, but simply naming what is, in his most beautiful, artistic prose. This is a spiritual book but not in an inaccessible, esoteric sense – more so in an intimate, instinctive sense that rings true with every word.
I notice people often say his words not only hold wisdom, peace and comfort. Perfect holiday reading. And perfect every-day reading.
“Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.”