Sunday, April 17, 2011

letter to yourself

In her book, The Poet's Pen, Betty Bonham Lies has innumerable suggestions of prompts to use in a writer's notebook and, more importantly, to use as a way for students "to look at themselves through the somewhat distancing lens of language." (Betty Bonham Lies, The Poet's Pen: Writing Poetry with Middle and High School Students (Portsmouth, NH: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1993), p. 33)

Tomorrow, I borrow (and slightly alter) such a prompt from Ms. Lies and encourage you to attempt a similar exercise... pondered is good; written is better.

Write a letter back to yourself from the you of 5 years from now.

Dear five-year-ago self,

To write to you is to write to a me that I no longer completely recognize. To put words down for you to read is to let you in on the secret of how you have grown, of what has emerged, of what you have left behind.

My needs are not yours. Yours included deep and lasting love, stability, more freedom of expression, and greater self-actualization. As I write to you today, you are more integrated, more perceptive (inwardly and outwardly), more accepting... and even, I would say, simpler... in that beautiful circularity where a transient simplicity is attained only after passing through a challenging complexity. You participate in 'peak experiences' (à la Maslow) wherein you fully release to feel "limitless horizons opening up to the vision, [where you have] the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before..."

You have rested and relaxed into the very essence of your being making others, and you, more comfortable with you... and easing you into the flow of life.

And yet, there are consistencies. I know the aches you are feeling now. I still feel those. They mutate and shift shapes and transform, but they still remain within your core. Yes, you are still sensitive. Acutely so. It's okay -- stop fighting it. You have always known, but not always trusted, that this is a rudimentary aspect of your being. Though sometimes a flaw, it is -- like most flaws -- also a profound strength. Your sensitivity enables you to observe closely and mindfully. It endows you with the quality of being a good listener. It lets the world permeate you to dangerous intensities where you feel a sort of cosmic pain and weight. Yet, it also carries you to lofty and distant peaks from whose purview you see the sweep of time and space, mountains of the genuine, crystal lakes of honor, grasslands of shimmering virtue, winds tickling the expanse with gentle, generous love. Yes, you feel deeply. But it still does not take you much to be moved... perhaps just the weightlessness of a hummingbird appearing and disappearing before you, its wings fluttering so rapidly as to be almost completely still, to be hovering in space with utter effortlessness.... the manifestation of pure grace.

Yes, you are still sensitive. However, what you have been able to do is to direct that sensitivity more towards the needs of others, less towards those insecurities that still haunt you now. You will grow from those, move on. If time is like a river, than I am merely wading further down in the calm pools lit by blue twilight. You will move through the rapids. You will move towards me. You are moving towards me.

Your fears are not my fears. You fear sometimes that you will not be understood, will give love that will not be returned, will reach and reach and never arrive. You will be loved -- deeply and profoundly. You will arrive, though you will then continue on towards new goals, but with a greater sense of direction and meaning and ability to give back. You will never be completely understood. You know that now. Don't hold on to that fear. Love is not rooted in understanding, but in trying to understand... the road always more important than the destination.
"The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul..."

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"It was a strange kiss. It was a beautiful kiss.
It seemed to last a long time.
It seemed to last a lifetime."

- Christian Hawkey

"And it seems like the time when after doubt
   Our love came back amain.
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
    And be my love in the rain."

- Robert Frost

"A mere eyelid's distance between you and me.

It took us a long time to discover the number zero...

I want to kiss you."

- Amy Uyematsu
I am here. You are there. Don't be afraid - I am here. Trust in the leap. Trust in the space between eyelids. Trust that the river's rapids will ease into the tranquil pools where I am now standing... bathing... gliding onwards. Don't thrash. Stop clenching. I love you without completely understanding you. I am so glad to be the me you are moving towards.
"The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
             Is lovely yet...
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

- William Wordsworth
Until we meet... again...

The future you

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