Jump to Main Content

Please Call Me By My True Names

Thich Nhat Hanh
In Being Peace

Do not say I depart tomorrow,
for even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every moment,
to be a bud on a branch,
to be a tiny bird with wings still fragile,
 learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry
    in order to fear and to hope.
the rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the may fly metamorphosing
    on the surface of a river,
and I am the bird, which when spring comes,
   arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog, swimming happily
   in the clear water of a pond,
and I am the grass-snake who,
  approaching in silence,
  feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
   my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly
   weapons to Uganda.


I am the 12 year old girl, refugee
   on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
   after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable
  of seeing and and loving.

I am a member of the politburo
   with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his
 "debt of blood" to my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes
   flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain like a river of tears, so full it
   fills up the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
  so I can hear all my cries and my laughs at once,
So that I can see that my joy and my pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
   so I can wake up,
and so the doors of my heart can be left open,
the doors of compassion.