Emptiness and Dreams

A sort of empty weight
has clung to my heart for years.
I can’t recall a single date
I wasn’t beset by fears
that this hole would grow
and one day swallow me whole.

Do I patch the well with art
and create a new, safer ground
or do I rest, let the healing start
and no longer let myself be bound
by all the stress and anxiety
I always carry with me?

To patch the world is my dream:
to create a way for all to learn
the words that all souls scream,
to find a way to forever burn
away whatever divides us
so no one feels superfluous.

There is no room for rest
or even compromise
when putting dreams to the test
and aiming for the skies.
Over ground tremulous and patched
I will walk as yet unmatched.

Saturday Morning Musing

It is always good to believe in yourself. When it comes down to it, nothing but believing in yourself is going to keep you working on something difficult when you continuously encounter setbacks and challenges that make you wonder if you should just give up. No amount of other people believing in you is going to be able to answer the question of “should I keep doing this.”

It does make it a lot easier, though. If someone else believes in you, it makes it a lot easier to believe in yourself. I used to sort of believe in myself. I would always say I did and I possessed enough blind determination to just keep working regardless of whether or not I believed in myself, but it took an endorsement from one of my favorite teachers in college to actually do it.

I wrote in high school because I wanted to escape. I kept writing because other people enjoyed my escapes as much as I did and because some part of me recognized that writing gave me the ability to work through some of the problems I had faced without having to confront them directly. Looking back, it is painfully clear how much each story I worked on was some part of my attempting to reconcile how the world was with how I had been taught (and how I believed) it should be. How my life was versus how I thought it should be.

In college, as I focused on learning about writing and stories and literature, I started to grasp more consciously what I had subconsciously known and my writing improved. I could now do on purpose what I’d only been doing by accident before. I improved my technical writing skills and kept improving my storytelling skills. I read a bunch of experimented with formats and styles. I grew a lot, but I still didn’t believe in myself.

At the end of my junior year of college, I was awarded a scholarship for excellence in writing. The award was validating, of course. It felt great to see that my professors believed in me and that my work at building a community amongst the other writing students was being recognized. Still, what meant more to me was the speech my creative writing professor gave as she introduced the award and hinted at who had won it.

Hearing what she said, the way she said, and how excited she was to see where I might one day wind up was huge. Everything she said then and the things she said afterwards gave me the confidence I needed to really commit to believing in myself. What had once been a sort of general belief that I’d be able to land on my feet (or get back on them) no matter what happened focused into a sincere belief that I’d be able to achieve my writing goals of helping people with my stories.

It changed the course of my next few years and enabled me to keep writing despite how hard my life eventually became. Eventually, though, even that wore down. A single endorsement, even if I still have the speech my professor wrote, will eventually crumble due to the passage of time and all that I had left was my belief in myself. That helped for a while, but it eventually was riddled with doubt.

Eventually, though, that ended. It was a small thing, at least it probably seems like that to a lot of people, but it was huge to me. A birthday card from a friend. A simple message of a few sentences full of heartfelt words and the same strength of belief that my professor had years before. It helped me answer the doubts I felt and gave me the boost I needed to push from doubts to writing again. My belief came back, strong as ever, and I started working on writing projects I hadn’t touched in months and eventually decided updating my blog every day was a good idea.

When I get exhausted or start to wonder if updating this thing every day for a year is actually worth it, I just look at that card again and am reminded that I’m not doing this for views or for fame or for anything external reason. I’m doing this for me. I’m proving a point to myself that I can do this and that nothing is ever going to stop me from being a writer but my own decisions to give up.

I’m about a third of the way through my thirteen month challenge and I’m getting to the point where I can make room to work on non-blog stuff. At this point, nothing can stop me. I’ve felt burned out for three years now, thanks to the job that brought me to my current city, but I don’t need to feel a certain way to write. If I ever recover fully, from the mental and emotional exhaustion that job inflicted on me, I’ll be more productive than I ever imagined I could be. Right now, I’m constantly exhausted, battling depression, and struggling to make it through each week without letting my mental illnesses swamp me, and I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.

I knocked on wood as soon as I finished writing that paragraph because I’m not so naive as to believe things can’t get worse, but I still don’t think they will. There will be bad days and there will be bad weeks, but I think I’ve got it in me to make sure I’m still having good months.

Anchor

What weighs me down weighs naught at all.
Instead, it pulls me from my feet.
The ways I’m down aren’t ways at all
But an urge to admit defeat.
I wallow not in some dark pit
But in an endless sea replete
With crushing waves that don’t remit
And don’t allow me to retreat.

I tread and float upon the sea
With nothing but my strength and will.
There is nothing to tether me
Or that will make my floating still.
I am not content to survive
Waves larger than the tallest hill.
I will fight while I’m still alive
To buck this watery treadmill.

I will forge myself an anchor
Made of my wit and will and word.
I will twist a rope of my rancor
And all of the pain I’ve incurred.
My anchor will lodge in the deeps,
Stuck fast no matter how I’m stirred
By the wind, waves, and rain that sweeps
Away the rafts I once preferred.

 

Poison Drops

These little drops of poison dew
Collect upon my heart.
These little drops are not from you
Nor did you make them start.

No, my dear, they have always been,
So do not shed a tear.
These poison drops feel lesser when
I can hold you near.

These drips have taken no small toll
But they are not a threat.
You need not worry for my soul,
Its strength is greater yet.

I will not lie or hide the pain
Poison drips can cause me
But worry not, they leave no stain
And are temporary.

They’re little remnants of my past
That will not go away.
They do not fall upon me fast
Nor do they overstay.

I’ve lived with them all of my life
And doubt they’ll ever cease
But they are to my wit a knife,
It’s sharpness to increase.

I’ve made my peace with poison drops,
Painful that they may be,
For I have pulled out all the stops
So they may work for me.

Tending a Garden

I have planted countless thoughts in my garden.
Though many took root on their own,
Unminded and without attention,
More still are those I set in place
With all the tenderness of a mother
Caring for her first-born child.

I have tread the paths of my garden without end,
Watching the ideas shoot through the ground
Even as I continue to sow more.
Some shoots are plucked quickly,
“For the sake of the others” I explain,
And the remainder now flourish

Mighty now are the results of my labor,
Dappled shadow and bursts of color
Leave me in awe even as I know
That they will become greater still.
My life and path lie in their shadow
As I wait to see what they will become.

Twenty-Six Lines

Dearest friend and oft-times mentor,

I apologize for the lateness of the hour,
But I’m writing this note from my lover’s bower
(Which should explain the particular artistry
I’m using to write this bit of poetry)
And could not help my mind but turn toward you
As I consider the New Year and what I’ll do
With my regained health
And stronger sense of self.

Though my attention has been scarce of late,
It has not escaped my notice that still you wait
On my promises of impending time
Which all wound up going toward my climb
Out of those depths all dark and heavy and blue
Instead of all the things I promised we would do
When I would tell you how
I did not have time right now.

Thank you for your patience touring my tribulations,
Your kindness has helped keep whole my foundations
While I work on the process of rebuilding
And now I am eager to do your bidding.
So let us make up for all the time that was lost
And you need no longer worry about the cost.
Now I’ve strengthened my will
I can cover the bill.

With ceaseless thanks and gratitude, your friend.
P.S.
All that I have to add
As I read this in review
Is that if you had the thought
That this poem was about you
Then you, friend, should be proud
Because that thought is likely true