Hi! I'm Nadia Colburn—writer, teacher, yogi, activist

Our Interdependence, A Poem, A Writing Prompt, Events, and More

Published 5 months ago • 4 min read

Dear Reader,

I invite you to take a breath! Almost everyone I talk to these days feels the need to slow down, to take a breath. I know I often do.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about interdependence; as a writer and a person, remembering our interconnections keeps me focused on what's important.

So today I want to share:

  • A little reminder about some upcoming events, in the hopes we might connect with one another in person! I'm something of an introvert, but it's been so wonderful connecting with people around my new book :)
  • A poem from I Say the Sky inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings of the interdependence of the right and left hands
  • An excerpt from a blog post I wrote about interdependence with some beautiful teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh and Martin Luther King Jr, and some writing prompts you can use any time.

As always, I hope you enjoy these resources and offerings. If you do, let me know–I love to hear from you!

Upcoming events!

I’d love to meet you on my I Say the Sky book tour; these events are all interactive and will, I hope, spark your own creativity and centering.

Chicago: three interactive readings/workshops (Feb. 2-6)

  • Poetry & the Senses at the Adler Arts Center on Feb. 2nd. Learn more.
  • Poetry & the Climate Crisis at Sem Co-Op Bookstore on Feb. 4th. Learn more.
  • Poetry, Grieving & Celebration at The Book Cellar on Feb. 6th. Learn more.

Kansas City Learn more about my AWP events here (open to conference participants and the general public) (Feb 7-10)

Fort Collins, Colorado Reading with Sasha Steensen and Aby Kaupang (Feb 15)

I would so love to see you at any of these events! Email me if you think you can make it to one :)

Check out my upcoming events for free online readings, and readings/ workshops in the Boston and New England area. I'll be adding more in the upcoming weeks—and if you have a book group or community you'd like me to visit, please reach out.

A poem on interdependence:

What if we treated all beings the way our hands treat each other? What if we treated all parts of ourselves this way? I wrote this poem when I was struggling with self-compassion.


You who open for me each day,
who close upon a pen, a hairbrush,
a plum, a rock that I lift
from the shore and throw into the lake,

two in unison, in opposition, one that,
when the other is hurt, immediately helps;
hands, unprotected in the day—
dangling, un-shy, unselfconscious,

not full of doubt—
only yourselves.

By Nadia Colburn
I Say the Sky

An excerpt from my blog post, On Interdependence

One of the most beautiful and core teachings of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh is interdependence. At a time of imbalance on so many different levels in our world, what would happen if we all could come into greater understanding of interdependence, whether in our personal, business, national, global, or interspecies relationships?

Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings come in large part from his experiences during the wars in Vietnam, where he was a peace activist, working to stop the senseless destruction. The Buddhism that he teaches is always an “engaged buddhism,” rooted in the interconnection of all beings. In the post, I also share some of Martin Luther King's thoughts on interconnection.

Here are some of Thich Nhat Hanh‘s teachings on interbeing:

“There is no permanent entity within us, there is only a stream of being. There is always a lot of input and output. The input and the output happen in every second, and we should learn how to look at life as streams of being, and not as separate entities. This is a very profound teaching of the Buddha. For instance, looking into a flower, you can see that the flower is made of many elements that we can call non-flower elements. When you touch the flower, you touch the cloud. You cannot remove the cloud from the flower, because if you could remove the cloud from the flower, the flower would collapse right away. You don’t have to be a poet in order to see a cloud floating in the flower, but you know very well that without the clouds there would be no rain and no water for the flower to grow. So cloud is part of flower, and if you send the element cloud back to the sky, there will be no flower. Cloud is a non-flower element. And the sunshine…you can touch the sunshine here. If you send back the element sunshine, the flower will vanish. And sunshine is another non-flower element. And earth, and gardener…if you continue, you will see a multitude of non-flower elements in the flower. In fact, a flower is made only with non-flower elements. It does not have a separate self.

A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower has to “inter-be” with everything else that is called non-flower. That is what we call inter-being. You cannot be, you can only inter-be. The word inter-be can reveal more of the reality than the word “to be”. You cannot be by yourself alone, you have to inter-be with everything else. So the true nature of the flower is the nature of inter-being, the nature of no self. The flower is there, beautiful, fragrant, yes, but the flower is empty of a separate self. To be empty is not a negative note. Nagarjuna, of the second century, said that because of emptiness, everything becomes possible.

So a flower is described as empty. But I like to say it differently. A flower is empty only of a separate self, but a flower is full of everything else. The whole cosmos can be seen, can be identified, can be touched, in one flower. So to say that the flower is empty of a separate self also means that the flower is full of the cosmos. It’s the same thing.

So you are of the same nature as a flower: you are empty of a separate self, but you are full of the cosmos. You are as wonderful as the cosmos, you are a manifestation of the cosmos…."

—From Dharma Talk 28th of July 1998

Read the full blog post here.

A writing prompt on interdependence

Look around you: find one object. Where does it come from? How many different elements, places, hands has the object passed through to get to where it is now? Write a piece about the object and the way it came into being.

Find more writing prompts in my blog post here

And please leave a comment on my blog about what interdependence means to you, how the writing prompts go for you, and more. I always love to hear from you.

Thank you for being here. I’m grateful to be interconnected with you!

with love,

Hi! I'm Nadia Colburn—writer, teacher, yogi, activist

Author of The High Shelf and founder of Align Your Story writing school.

At Align Your Story Writing School, we bring traditional literary and creative writing studies together with mindfulness, embodied practices, and social and environmental engagement. Join a community of over 25,000 other mindful writers. Get the tools and community to write your best work.

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