Reflections about Living and Leadership

Carol A. Hand


It’s not easy when others expect you to be a bodhisattva
or describe you as the smartest person in the room
You know it’s the kiss of death to friendships
Those who seek status and control will vengefully attack
Those you thought friends will opine “I’m not in your league”
and demand you assume responsibility, make decisions, and lead

How can others learn their own wisdom, strengths, or who they are
if they always expect others to know the answers and serve as the vanguard?

You know you’re not anyone’s guru –
you stumble and fall more times than most

After a while you retreat and grow silent
knowing others need to find their own truths
all you can do is to keep seeking and forging your own path

It’s a paradox, isn’t it
when the only way to lead is to simply live
without need of recognition or followers
in hopes that others will find the song in their own hearts
that’s been waiting patiently to be discovered all along


I wrote this poem when I was wondering if I would recover from a serious illness recently. Although I am recovering, there are no guarantees for the future. It’s only one moment at a time now, so I have to be ever mindful of how I spend those moments. I had no intentions of sharing this poem until today when I read the following passage from Gitanjali: Spiritual Poems of Rabindranath Tagore.


I THOUGHT that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power, ⎯ that the
path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time come to take
shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country
is revealed with its wonders.

(from Gitanjali: Spiritual Poems of Rabindranath Tagore – An e-book presentation by The Spiritual Bee, pp. 31-32)

I wonder how many others have felt silenced by others’ expectations for them to be strong, smart, or a spiritual healer because of their Native American heritage. Reading Tagore is helping me focus on following what’s in my own heart. He’s a gifted thinker and poet.

If you want to read more of Tagore’s work, you can access a free copy from The Spiritual Bee. “This e-book is a reproduction of the original “Gitanjali – Song Offerings” by Rabindranath Tagore, first published in 1913. This book is now in the public domain in the United States and in India; because it’s original copyright owned by the Macmillan Company has expired.”

The Spiritual Bee also has a number of other copyright-expired books that can be downloaded for free.


41 thoughts on “Reflections about Living and Leadership

  1. There are no guarantees from our first day in this life, as you know, Carol. I’m just glad that you are still here. And I pray your stay with us will be extended indefinitely!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I hear you, Carol. I was sick all night again, and I am alone. So death comes to mind quite often. But before I have to live much longer, I will take death, even as frightening as it is.

        So yes, perhaps, ‘indefinitely’ was not the right word, Carol. But at least I didn’t write “for all eternity”;-) I just hope you are well, that’s all!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reading whoever helps you “focus on following what’s in your own heart” is always a good thing–and sometimes the only thing that gets you to a better place when you are searching in the dark. There’s a beautiful old song that says as much in two words: ALONE TOGETHER. You might want to Google it and give it a listen (I have Artie Shaw’s record of it in my collection).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Carol, Tubularsock wishes you well in your life quest.

    Present is constant …

    Oops, it’s gone.

    Oh there it is …. nope.

    Tubularsock tried to organize the bodhisattvas
    into a union awhile back.

    It didn’t work!

    Every time we went on strike,

    THEY returned!

    Thanks Carol for all your wise words and take care
    of your being!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. After a while you retreat and grow silent knowing others need to find their own truths all you can do is to keep seeking and forging your own path

    It’s a paradox, isn’t it when the only way to lead is to simply live without need of recognition or followers in hopes that others will find the song in their own hearts that’s been waiting patiently to be discovered all along

    Well, Carol, though you ask the question of those with a Native American heritage, it isn’t just “Native Americans” who are asked and expected to lead when a red-hot issue of social injustice or environmental troubles arise, whether it be global or in one’s little community!  Growing up in the days of anti-Vietnam protests and American draft dodgers here, just a few miles from the US border, then the fledgling environmental movement, then the Central American troubles (on-going and worsening to this day) plus the struggles to safeguard our labour unions in spreading right-winged disinformation and religious-driven persecutions (some believe Canada is a free-er country than the US but as they say, when the US sneeze, Canada catches cold. Anyway, some of us became leaders simply to fill the gap, and we leafleted, cajoled, pushed, shoved, created troubles for the Establishment and gave rise to some awareness when none was forthcoming from the “silent majority” who couldn’t care less about garbage, oil spills, pipelines forced through native reservations and farmlands, US proxy wars in Latin America (in particular for us since they were so close and we came face-to-face with the refugees. Well, I got older and perhaps wiser. It was either join up with organized religious and political factions, or quit. I quit, for the exact reasons you mention. Now, being your age, I still care a great deal but what I DO is work at changing my own values, my own life, developing new ways to fulfil my chosen purpose, and lend a hand (reminds me of what a great, wonderful name you carry) and tell those who still wonder why, to look within if they would see REAL change.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As always, I am grateful for your thoughtful comments, Sha’Tara. It’s true that many people rise to the challenge of leadership in difficult times. I’m not so sure that the experiences of First Nations people have been very different in Canada than the in the U.S., though. I sincerely doubt that any imperial colonial government has ever been benign in its treatment of indigenous peoples.

      Like you, though, I have come to realize that the only meaningful change needs to begin within each individual. That only happens when people see the need to make changes and are willing to do the hard work required. There days, that’s not a comforting thought given the current power structure in the U.S.


  5. Carol, a very thoughtful and insightful post. I know how challenging it is to engage, to lead my own life, without the unconscious assignment of others’ fear or discomfort with standing on their own…at any age. I wish you well as you continue your recovery. You are a very wise woman.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. An honest and wise poem, Carol. Do take good care of yourself, and yes, your poem is good for this stage of your life because more than ever, you need to focus on your own recovery and as for the rest … let it go.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I resonate with this message, your part and Tagore’s part, although I am a white man. Often I am told I am a leader, but I don’t yet know how to lead. Sometimes I may fall into the trap of thinking that being called a leader makes me one. Thanks for the tip about the free poetry!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Tehanu, and for sharing your insights and experiences.. The topic of leadership is a challenging issue, to be sure, and influenced profoundly by the societies into which we were socialized. At the moment, I think of it simply as taking responsibility for living one’s own life based on one’s own spiritual values – as ethically, compassionately, and consciously as possible. The difficulty emerges when one tries to do so in dominant cultural contexts and institutions where the majority of people have been socialized to believe that leadership is a noun, a reified status conveyed by socially constructed qualities, rather than a verb that better portrays the ever-lived expression of internally-motivated individuals in action.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Carol, thanks so much for these words. I am going to copy and paste them into the regenerative culture working group research document which I am helping compile, as part of the Rising Up activist organisation of which I am a member. I will credit you. I hope to tell you about Rising Up soon and our planned Extinction Rebellion for autumn of 2018.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Wish you a speedy recovery and May you keep spreading the inner light!
    The poem is so beautiful and thoughtful. Tagore was a gem and fountain of wisdom. His works hold true for all time.

    Liked by 1 person

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