It’s my ‘process,’ not to read or revisit anything I’ve written for six months. I leave it vaulted for six months because I know it’s easy to think something is ‘good,’ because I might be tied to the emotion of the piece versus it actually being decent. After six months, I am objective. I am no longer living in the emotion that spawned the poem. The interesting thing about this project is that I’ve had to revisit really old work. I noticed pieces I never cared for, spoke to me. I also noted some of my favorite works had faded. I believe a ‘great poem,’ time will hold up forever; however, as my favorite writing instructor used to remind us, “We all maybe get one truly great poem in our lives and we’re extremely lucky if we get two.’ I turned 39 a few months ago and it hit me hard. I questioned things like I have never questioned things in my life. For me, who is always questioning things, one can only imagine.. One day I actually found an article on line (I’ll try to find it and repost it), which talks about when we ‘peak’ at various things. For example, our brain peaks at being able to learn a new language at six. The fascinating thing was that we peak cognitively in all these areas very young (which I sort of knew), but when it came to things like ‘feeling comfortable in your skin,” and “enjoying your life,” even the article was surprised to find it was not in your twenties as many people would expect but in one’s like late sixties and early seventies. The most interesting part of the article stated, ‘people make the most changes in their lives in years where their ages end in ‘9’s (29, 39, 49, etc). I’m not surprised, but it was sort of a gift, given all the reckoning with myself I’ve been doing. Then, as I was preparing for today’s post, I came across a poem. It was one I really don’t remember writing. It was all about the moments in life when we rediscover, “I’m ok.” I have come to really disdain the word ‘better.’ In working with my clients, I hear it and I cringe. I know it all too well. I lived through an eating disorder. I should say I live with one because they’re always there just waiting for you to get the right amount of vulnerable to pop up. When I hear them say ‘better,’ I hear in my own head and often in their heads, “I will be better at 150. I will be better at 130…and on and on.” Having gone almost below 100 pounds and been also clinically obese at times and everywhere in-between, I know ‘better’ never comes. I always ask them, “When you hit 100 pounds, was your life better than it was at 120 pounds?” The individuals who are emerging into recovery will say ‘no.’ I instead encourage them to ask, “What would it take for me to just feel ‘ok.’ I think it’s safer because ‘ok,’ is not perfect. It’s accepting we have flaws. Anyway, this poem spoke directly to this idea. -L
There comes a time in life when you
just want to share your headphones,
when everyone who runs into you comments,
“something is different about you?”
when you return to surprise and rediscover
how delicious finding a grove of unexpected wildflowers can be.
You find yourself riding tour buses you said,
you’d never agree to ride on, where you’re guided
by a hand it would be a sin to let go of.
You have not gotten more handsome.
You're paler than you ever been, your brain is slowly dispelling cells,
and people still keep saying, ‘you’re just glowing.’
Words are spoken carefully, said as if
each syllable were part of a prayer.
The shape of people’s silences,
allows you to feel their confessions.
You allow yourself to be left alone with intimacy.
You watch wind interact with wave,
light with shadow,
and summer breezes with skin touched by humidity, and it’s clear
we are not the only things in this world that have
relations to one another. A realization,
we are both younger and older,
a city sleeps and the country does the same.
The comments continue to come,
“Something is different with you.”
The mirror assures you, your teeth are not whiter,
your hairline is still receding, your pants
assure you neither is your waistline. A time comes,
In the early morning when the world takes on more light,
yet it’s still dark outside, but objects are easier to make out.
The laughter of a teenager and his girlfriend with their jeans rolled up,
collecting what night has washed in to the tidepools, the grin
of a woman carrying her morning coffee as she walks the beach,
the excitement of early morning dogs walking their tired owners.
In the halcyon late mornings, the inner fog loses you.
Your eating disorder has left home again, yet the scale
dictates you weigh the same as yesterday. “Lighter,”
is how they say you look and feel. You aren’t expecting anything,
You haven’t been waiting for any change.
When you open the door, you aren’t expecting anything
because you stopped ordering things that promised
to make life ‘better,’ and just ended up wasting time and money.
You have sold yourself to yourself. They ask,
“What is so different about you?” You smile,
“I’m not getting better anymore. I am just being