While I’m grading papers, I have a burning desire for inspiring background noise… that usually distracts me from the grading altogether. This week, TED provided the background noise, and I ran across this:
“If I should ever have a daughter…”
“There are hurts that can’t be fixed by band aids and poetry…”
“You step out of the phone booth and try to fly only to find that the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape…”
“Your Mama is a worrier and your Papa is a warrior…”
I LOVE poetry. A lot of times, I avoid it because it’s a bit too touchy feely for my very practical brain. Sometimes I avoid it because it makes me feel things that I don’t want to feel. And sometimes, I avoid it because I don’t have time to slow down… or at least I think I don’t.
The lines above are the ones from the talk that most touched my heart and mind. I like the first one because it’s hopeful and thoughtful, and I wish more parents would think more about “if they should ever have a daughter…” before they have them. I like the second one because it respects the pain, but also hopes in the beautiful and healing things of this world. I love the third line because it’s true and sad. And I love the last one because it tells a story.
I love stories. I love words and truth. I love hope. And all of those things leave me predisposed to loving poetry. Of course I love art; the Sistine Chapel can’t but take your breath away and the Gates of Paradise sparkle in the sun like a lucky quarter, because the luckiest people in the world are those few who enter through the narrow gate. I love music; I still turn to Harry Chapin’s “Awe, strum your guitar. Sing it, kid. Just write about your feelings, not the things you never did. Inexperience – it once did curse me, but your youth is no handicap; it’s what makes you thirsty…” I turn to it when I feel young. I turn to it about equally as often as I turn to Paul’s letter to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” But the truth is that I love art that tells a story. I love music that tells a story.
And that’s why poetry so perfectly fits in my heart. Poetry can so elegantly tell stories that are stuck somewhere, jammed in a straw or waiting at an airport because they flew standby. Stories that just maybe can’t be told but in a whisper or to your pet hamster.
“turns out, sometimes, poetry can be really scary.”
Poetry can be really embarrassing.
And I’m the kid in DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY who is self-conscious and embarrassed of everything inside of him. The one who wrote a poem, but crumpled it and showed up on the due date with nothing to turn in. I’ve got stacks of lonely poems that have never been read. They’ve moved from place-to-place, but never met a single soul outside of my own. Never made eye-contact and probably never will.
Because it’s excruciating.
But I will offer you a tiny crumble of vulnerability here.
I offer up my list of the 10 things I know to be true.
- Poetry touches my soul and is beautiful.
- THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO is going to take a long time to read.
- The Fray are overplayed on the radio, but I still love them.
- God is more… more forgiving, more powerful, more accessible, more perfect, more true, more loving, more mine than I could ever imagine.
- Annabelle isn’t going to live forever.
- The teenagers in front of me are flirting with trouble. They think they’re flirting with each other, but really they’re flirting with Herpes, heartbreak, HPV, Hell, Hepatitis and hard, horrific, horrible regret.
- I have friends who are more forgiving, more powerful, more accessible, more perfect, more true, more loving, more mine than I could ever imagine.
- I want to live by my pen like Jane Austen.
- Excruciating vulnerability is worth it.
- This list wouldn’t be as embarrassing as I imagine it would be if it were “…the only proof I existed.”
What’s on your list of Ten Things You Know to Be True?