I’ve been toying with a new writing project lately — one that combines the optimism of affirmations and the reality of everyday life. These “verses,” designed to be read and reflected on at night, help frame the chaos of our lives in a way that is both refreshing and, I hope, clarifying.
Here’s an early draft:
Tonight, I remember that I am remembered,
even when I am not remembered by name.
It happens clumsily with some — ”Who was it who lent me a hand?” —
and gracefully with others — ”I’m grateful for the kindness
and support from the one who lifted me up when I most needed it.”
I remember that despite my darkest moments,
I am nurturing, restoring, caring in a mad and miserable world desperate
for help. I have gifts that are needed; I will not be extinguished.
Tonight, I laugh at myself. Guttural guffaws and
creaky giggles. For the moments I trip
and fall over nothing but air. For moments I overstep.
For misplaced anger and shouts and soul-curdling insults.
For the mistakes I made a thousand times and make
again once more.
For everything I shook from its brilliant dreams.
I laugh at myself to let it all go. I am human, after all.
Tomorrow is tomorrow — and I will be a better human then.
Tonight, I accept life as it stands. Or as it teeters, maybe — even as it falls.
I accept, letting go of the idle fight within that drains,
the fight against a thousand things I cannot change and some
I do not even know.
I accept life and give up the fight — not in defeat, but to
live as protagonist, building up instead of tearing down.
To reserve my imagination, my hope and heart, my soul unsapped
for living this life, not arguing for what I think it should be.
This life I accept, and cherish, up and down,
front and back, inside-out, whatever form she takes.
Tonight, I commit. Not emptily in resolutions, or superficially
in exercise and diet schemes. I commit to authenticity,
to find what it is inside myself that burns — once brightly
but somehow faded to an ember.
I commit to being unapologetically myself, to feed my
soul the oxygen in needs to express, wildly, the brightness of me.
To spend no more energy on things that others want of me,
but to ignite the world with expressions they never thought possible.
To teach the world new colors, new shapes, new life, new light.
I commit to me, and the world will be amazed.
Tonight, I tangle with heartache. Not to knot it up
so it does me no more harm. But to
embrace it from every angle. To know its thick
and thin, where it gives up and how it knows
to charge ahead.
Much like neighbors, heartache comes and goes:
Each time a little different, a little the same.
And I tangle with it now so that someday I
can say, without bitterness, “Thank you for the raw, the real,
the sweetness you illuminated and the grief you
I tangle with heartache so that I can dance again with love.
Tonight, I pray. Not to a white man in a beard
or a pantheon of creatures in the ether
of the universe. No; I pray not to but from,
from my innermost self that wishes, wants,
fears, desires, makes manifest the good and the bad
within me. I pray to myself and from myself,
giving over to the powers and the passions that be —
whatever names we give them in our corner of the infinite.
All that is the best of me, the most honest of me.
I pray to know myself and remember that I am worth
a seat on the dais of the universe.
Tonight, I retreat. Just a little, maybe — not all the way.
To a grove of trees, shaded by a 100-year-old canopy
of lush quiet. Where I can breathe, and think, and not move.
Where I can be. And that is enough.
I retreat like this to find my name again, to know my place and steady course.
To think again on what path is best for me,
so that I not follow blindly where other pave and race,
where winds so whimsically blow.
Tonight, I apologize. No — not like that. Not beating down
what’s good in me, not shaming myself in front of others
or dismissing my unequalled gifts.
I say “I’m sorry” for genuine wrongdoing, and in my words
I share the “why” and ask if I may fix what’s broken.
I apologize, too, to myself. For the many moments I forget myself,
and how quickly I reject the notion that the world needs me.
I am sorry for thinking so little of me that my first
apology is to others and not myself.
I apologize to heal, within and without. To release the hurt,
so I can spend my energy on igniting hearts, and souls, and minds.