The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Responsibilities of Communicators and Receivers

It’s still National Poetry Month until tomorrow! I have been thinking about a poem all month, but it just never seemed the time to share it. I always enjoy how energy works — the law of attraction!

The poem? “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. You probably know one quote from it: “Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.” However, I was thinking of the way the poem begins.

The premise rests on an ancient mariner — glad Coleridge didn’t call him an old seaman! — who experienced a traumatic ocean voyage some unknown time past, maybe hundreds of years ago. It was a poem in the Romantic Period of literature which stressed the imagination and elements of nature. The lesson that the old sailor learned was at great personal expense for the transgression of spontaneously and without explanation killing an albatross, a bird that seemed to bring good luck to the ship on which he was sailing. His atonement was that he had to wander the earth communicating his experience to enlighten others.

The ship becomes stranded, and after losing the whole crew — well, if you’ve never read it, you should give it a try. It’s another one I would have fun reading on a video. Anyway, at the end, the ancient mariner proclaims to the targeted wedding guest “He prayeth well, who loveth well / Both man and bird and beast. / He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small / For the dear God who loveth us, / He made them one and all.” The mariner learned his lesson, and he told it (of course, he seemed to have no choice!).

The reader might wonder, though, if the wedding guest got the message. “…the Wedding Guest / Turned from the bridegroom’s door. / He went like one that hath been stunned, / And is of sense forlorn: / A sadder and a wiser man, / He rose the morrow morn.” The singled out wedding guest heard the message, and it impacted him.

Why is now the right time for this poem? This morning, I was thinking about what I should write. I had thought about the prevailing writing philosophy that you know your target audience and cater to them. Until really recently, I wasn’t even sure who that was, and I had no idea how to find out before I actually put stuff out there and got a response. Like the mariner, though, I had to communicate my message, not knowing if my writing would be effectual. I think it has to some extent, but I haven’t met up with “a sadder and a wiser man” as a result of my work.

However, I think that I am emitting positive vibes, good energy. The other thing that cinched the reference to this poem was a video that a social media friend shared of Prince. It’s so awesome when we learn what underpinning beliefs drive some of the greats in their field. I wish there had been a different ending for Prince, but who am I to judge that, except to say that there are times when we don’t listen to the right inner voice.

Anyway, in an MTV interview, Prince said, “The truth is that you are here to either enlighten or discourage.” I sincerely hope that I am enlightening, at least a tad.

I think that we can know if we are listening to the ego or our hearts by the effect we have on others. Do we discourage or enlighten? I think that puts some responsibility on those of us who receive communication. If a message in whatever form strikes our heart as meaningful, then we should respond, regardless if we are the perceived “target audience” or not. If the idea resonates with us, we are the target.

The reality is that I doubt I fit into the demographics of few target audiences any more. Maybe I’m kind of like the ancient mariner “whose eye is bright, / Whose beard with age is hoar.” So, I will simply take everything I can to heart; you, whoever you are, just keep living your heart and enlightening this world.

And I thank you for it!

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