Changing My Own Life

Friday, May 9, 2014

I have recently been entertained by a phrase my friend Jess told me, quoting another poet, "If you are too consumed by grief and have to watch bad TV shows, then you are with your ancestors." Glad to know that my ancestors are not disappointed in me for watching days and days of House on Netflix.

I have been suffering from moments of defeat recently, personal and professional. I moved too far into possible futures and instead ended up just where I started -- stuck. Life is not so easily changed, no matter what my fantasies.

I don't know how often most people give themselves permission to hide under the covers and feel overwhelmed by the doors shutting all around them. Facebook tells me that I am meant to have a montage of successes, near-professional photos, and funny cat video re-posts. And it's easy to feel like I'm burdening even my most well-meaning of friends when none of the material things have changed. My life situation isn't any better, but it isn't any worse. I am exactly where I've been before.

I've been thinking about resilience. It takes tremendous strength to change your own life. But I have been meeting more and more people who, despite their burdens, have been making that effort. It's not glamorous, but it deserves praise. And while I'm stewing and scheming, pushing back deadlines and spending time "with my ancestors," I must remember that I too am one of these people.

Until I can feel well again, I have been listening to poetry that inspires me. Check out these poems -- inhabiting very different emotions -- by Stacey Ann Chin, Tarfia Faizullah, and warsan shire.