Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Looking Back, and Looking Forward

July 30, 2008

My friend Ryan is far from perfect– he doesn’t post nearly enough on his blog, for example– but he is one of my heroes. His story of leaving a good career and a big house to go back to school and live in a one-bedroom condo with his family is one that gives me great pause, regularly. To me, it is a striking example of repentance (and not some silly mystical spiritual kind, either, but the plain Koine Greek sense of rethinking our thinking, and re-imagining our lives). Whenever I’m around him, I can’t help but be inspired by his ability to face my life squarely and engage with those in it, whether he is committing to compete in a triathlon, or doing a track workout, or getting beat (repeatedly) by his sisters in a 5K, or doing a huge U-turn to teach high-school history. His most recent post takes my breath away, and reminds me of a poem I wrote sometime last year.

our eyes locked for one instant
me, pushing a stroller
he, spending a school holiday at the mall
at the tail end of a pack of pseudo-surly, pale, peach-fuzzed kids

all of them, bending themselves
to be someone else
to find some minimal point of connection
to wedge themselves into the collective
to move through public spaces

postures fading
from the front of the pack
to the back
where my instant amigo
brings up the rear

afraid to be alone,
he’ll try to change who he is
chisel his uniqueness into ubiquity
a monumental effort
if he’s successful,
he’ll be invisible
alone in a crowd
he’ll feel safe and secure
if constantly on edge
suspicious
that someone will see him

and if he’s fortunate
20 years later
he’ll squint in the mirror
to try to see who he really is
to undo the process
and remember who he was
before he attached himself
to people who never cared about him
who never knew him
who no longer exist

he’ll wish he had studied math and english
run track, even though he was slow
learned the things he thought he knew
followed his muse
been true to himself

he’ll walk around the mall
looking for a trail of crumbs
still afraid, yet now hopeful

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One Response to “Looking Back, and Looking Forward”

  1. Mrs. says:

    i like this.

    thanks for sharing what you write.

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