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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Word Power


Someone who recently retired shared with me that one of his ambitions in retirement was to 'read more poetry.' That got me to thinking about how long it's been since I actually read a little poetry, and about how some of the poetry that I've learned along the way flows through my thinking and attitudes. Some examples: 

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
                                                      Desiderata
                                                      Max Ehrmann 

I remember how that fell on my ears when I first heard it in 7th grade or so.  I was (and am!) a child of the universe – not just of the small town I inhabited at that time - but of the whole universe. Wherever I go, I belong – not only belong but have a right to be there, and everything is unfolding according to a plan. It seems a little trite now. I wasn't very worldly back then – but I embraced my place in the universe and it helped shape me.

A second poem also resonates throughout my life in a pattern that everyone who knows me will recognize:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
                                                     The Road Less Traveled
                                                      Robert Frost

Thank you Robert Frost for helping me understand that there are decision points along the way and sometimes all we can do is choose – we can't foresee how “way leads on to way” and we can't go back for a do-over. So I have followed the poet down the less traveled roads and indeed, it “has made all the difference.”

So parents – I challenge you to dig around in your memory banks and see if there is poetry that has shaped you. It may have come to you in song lyrics or bumper stickers but there are words that have shaped you into the parent you have become. And you are, probably, reading things to your children that are shaping them. If you think you aren't, may I suggest: 

Listen to the Mustn'ts,child,
Listen to the Don'ts
Listen to the Shouldn'ts
The Impossibles, the Won'ts
Listen to the Never Haves,
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.
                                                    Anything Can Happen
                                                    Shel Silverstein

Bless your children with the promise of the future, not the restraints of fear. Share your formative poetry and tell them how it has shaped you. And, by the way, read it aloud! That's the only way they can really recognize good poetry.

1 comment:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes