You may think this post is a departure from what I usually write for my blog about marriage, family and having a son with Down syndrome. You may be right. I've discovered it's important for me to write in different genres from time to time, and about ideas that interest me. So...this one is a poem I've been working on for several months. It's gone through many edits, with several writer friends giving me their helpful feedback. The origin of the poem came from the suggestion of a professor in a continuing education class I took called "The Writing Life." He came up with a writing prompt which was to complete this sentence: There are two kinds of people in the world--people who (fill in the blank) and people who (fill in the blank).With very little hesitation, I filled in the blanks with 'people who are afraid of everything and people who are afraid of nothing'. Why did I choose these two groups of people? Ah, wouldn't you like to know! Let's just say some people I know and love are at a crossroads in their lives and have been "stuck" in a groove out of which they have not moved in a long time.
Think of it as a meditation on fear and on what keeps us from pursuing our dreams.
What are you afraid of? Does it feel
like the dark water of a chill autumn lake,
where you are underneath, struggling to breathe?
Or do you feel the weight of fear
inside your roiling belly,
a fierce ache
soothed only by flight?
What are you afraid of? Does it bring
you to your knees, collapsed on the
tired linoleum, fists raised to Heaven,
forsaken and hopeless?
Or do you sit alone in your room and close the shades,
surrendering to your episodic apathy,
and sleep’s escape for rescue?
What are you afraid of? Do you see
fear reflected on your face, as in a funhouse mirror,
distorting your thoughts until it seems the world is
too wide, too harsh, and unable to love you?
Or do you look around at others, meekly
measuring the caliber of their stature
against your own?
What are you afraid of? Is this your life?
Can you ask yourself
to abandon dread and panic,
to risk, to jump in blindly with calm expectation
of bursting up and out?
Is this all? Or can you widen your narrow scope
to see the promising landscape?
What are you afraid of? Will you stop
hating yourself long enough to take a chance,
to push off the edge like a swimmer who,
to gain momentum, plants her feet against
the sides--knees bent, and eyes wide open,
concentrating on the win, and fully committed
to this journey?