Just beyond yourself

It’s where you need to be

Half a step into self-forgetting and the rest restored by what you’ll meet

There is a road always beckoning

When you see the two sides of it closing together at that far horizon and deep in the foundations of your own heart at exactly the same time,

That’s how you know it’s the road you have to follow

That’s how you know it’s where you have to go

That’s how you know you have to go

That’s how you know

Just beyond yourself, it’s where you need to be

David Whyte

You know, when I first stumbled upon David Whyte’s poem, “Just beyond yourself,” I must admit, I felt a bit like I had walked into a room and forgotten why. That’s not an unfamiliar feeling for me—it’s basically a daily ritual, but this was different. This was art.

“Just beyond yourself” speaks to a journey past our own limitations, a treacherous trek that may involve asking for directions or, God forbid, reading the manual. It’s a poem that dares you to glance past the horizon, well beyond your comfort zone and right over the neighbor’s annoyingly tall hedge.

Whyte encourages us to venture past the self-imposed restrictions we set, much like my peculiar aversion to eating out on weekdays. Seriously, leaving the house when I don’t absolutely have to? You’d think I’d lost my marbles. Yet, in his eloquent and ethereal manner, he hints that what lies just beyond those self-imposed weekday boundaries might be more tantalizing than the perfect spaghetti dinner. And trust me, coming from me, that’s high praise.

The poem nudges us toward our dreams, fears, and passions, creating a psychological map that leads right to the pantry. It’s there, just beyond the barrier of self, that I discovered the very last peanut butter cookie that I’d hidden from myself. Triumph!

But on a more serious note, Whyte’s poem makes a profound point about self-discovery and courage. It’s about facing the unknown, something I did once by attempting to assemble an IKEA bookshelf without losing my sanity. Just beyond yourself, indeed.

I have to say, David Whyte must know a thing or two about courage. The unexplored territory he beckons us towards is not just an inspiring thought, but a literal place, a destination fraught with peril or, in my case, forgotten grocery lists and unfinished novels.

There’s a real charm to his invitation to leap into the unknown. It might be as grand as a new career or as simple as a new recipe. Whatever it is, Whyte’s words remind us that life’s sweetest rewards often lie just beyond our reach, like the remote control when you’ve finally gotten comfortable on the couch.

So, if you ever feel like venturing out just beyond yourself, remember that there’s humor, insight, and yes, possibly some cookies waiting for you.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.