It’s a Hard Time to Be Human

Parker J. Palmer, from It’s a Hard Time to Be Human: When I ran across this Ellen Bass poem recently, I was immediately drawn to the line, “It’s a hard time to be human.” I’m sure there’s never been a time when it wasn’t hard to be human. But this is our time, and our world seems to be spinning off course. And yet, as the poem’s title says, “The World Has Need of You.” It’s hard to credit that our little lives, words, and actions can make a difference, but they do. The “proof” is in the last three lines of this poem, which I’ll let you read for yourself…

“The World Has Need Of You”
by Ellen Bass

everything here
seems to need us

—Rainer Maria Rilke

I can hardly imagine it
as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient
prayer of my arms swinging
in counterpoint to my feet.
Here I am, suspended
between the sidewalk and twilight,
the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.
What if you felt the invisible
tug between you and everything?
A boy on a bicycle rides by,
his white shirt open, flaring
behind him like wings.
It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much
and too little. Does the breeze need us?
The cliffs? The gulls?
If you’ve managed to do one good thing,
the ocean doesn’t care.
But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,
the earth, ever so slightly, fell
toward the apple.

I’ll simply say, “Let’s get out there and drop lots of apples!” The world is full of people of good will — together we can help the good earth get back to spinning properly on its axis!

Photo: Aberrant Beauty


  1. Beautiful lines 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is hard to be human – and harder I think to be human and passively stand by doing nothing.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Beautiful poem with powerful words.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The need seems so overwhelming and comes from every direction these days. Hard to decide where to place one’s efforts and attentions at times, and often feel grossly inadequate no matter *what* I do. And yet, however small, must do something. Each gesture matters somehow, somewhere, to someone, right? If I’ve lightened a heart or elicited a smile or eased a path, however briefly, I feel a bit better about my little corner of the world…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What is important is to make the best of the privilege of being human. Now that I think about it, a dog’s life is pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The world has need of you, David, and your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The antidote to fear, anger, frustration, mistrust, etc. is action.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow, what a perfect message to give to the students on my leadership team who are graduating in May. So fitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. it has always been both hard and invigorating to be human. our job is to find the balance and joy somewhere in between, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If man was gone from the face of the earth, would one cockroach care?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sentiments are good but I clink to this saying “my yoke is easy” Love Palmer.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Science time says:

    Nice post! I’m making posts about scientific explanations behinde everyday appearance, so if you have time and will please go and check it out! If you like it please follow me, I follow you.
    Thank you! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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