When Poetry Comes to the Rescue

There are days when I feel I have nothing more to say or share with the world! And yet, I invariably pick up my pen and paper and scribble my heart out or pull out my laptop and type away all my passing thoughts as I’m doing now if only to steer away from the weariness that has been creeping up on me these days and rid my soul off the dust of everyday living that seems to have come to settle for good.

My limbs feel numbed and incapable of lifting the sagging spirit that seems to weigh me down more often than not. At times, I have nothing more to say to the self that will infuse hope and lift my morale, so I can get on with my day. But, for the life of me, go on I must, because a lot of people depend on me and the home too, that waits for me to signal the start and the end of a typical working week.

I am doing the best I can. I am functioning as I should. And like everyone else, things are not as I wish they were but I’m coping with things as one ought to. After all, life isn’t always what one wishes it to be.

And so, the world goes on, with the demands of everyday life pretty much unrelenting, even on those days when I feel I need a break. I know I will take a break —but I have to tell myself to wait a little bit more. That way, I can get away with my peace of mind ensured, ready to switch off for a little quiet renewal of my mind, soul and body!

I know even as I pour myself out here, that I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are millions who are going through similar struggles, coping as hard as they do best.

These are the days when the world inside our heads comes to our rescue. As we savour the stillness of a quiet morning, our mind finds a way to escape into that haven of peace where we can find the harmony and the space to be ourselves, to sink into a state of quietude with our books, our thoughts, our dreams—the book we wish to work upon, the poems that we love to read, the songs that soothe our tired souls and the memories that we love to bask upon—so much more beautiful than the harsh reality of the world we live in, that offers us no respite from the barrage of pain, noise, cacophony and disruptions to the rhythm we seek, that space to be ourselves, and everything else that our heart yearns for, to make us feel whole again.

Some days I wonder, why we’ve spent working so hard all our lives. For what? And for whom? If I go back in time, I can clearly recall those hard days of hard toil, roughing it out through school and college and the years to follow, when we dreamt of brighter days and better days and how that kept us going through the odds; remember the hopes that we pinned onto when things went awry and how we stayed positive through it all…Whatever happened to all that?

Today, I’m sharing a reading of Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey. It mirrors the anguish and the dilemma we all face, through the use of subtle imagery and as I read it, I can see how all those intangible thoughts that are muddled within me, find a voice in her memorable words. With every reading, the poem renews my sense of purpose and makes me feel whole once again.

I hope you love the poem as much as I do.

A reading of the poem, The Journey by Mary Oliver
The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day,
you finally knew what you had to do,
and began, though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice
though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

"Mend my life!" each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do—
determined to save the only life
that you could save.

I suppose taking life one day at a time is perhaps the best way to get on with it. I sincerely hope that we can all find it within us to save our only life as only we can, and that, we never lose sight of the innumerable fragments of hope and optimism that lie scattered around us even during the worst of times.

Most of all, may we always be grateful for whatever we have.

*******

Written as part of our #SoulfulSunday freewriting exercise—along with VinithaShilpa and Anamika.

6 thoughts

  1. Life in the past year taught me all that you have expressed in that last paragraph. Living in the moment, being grateful for all we have. It isn’t easy holding ourselves in the moment, as we tend to float in the past and the future. But it’s only living in the present that will make life liveable. No?
    Loved reading this post, too, dear! <3

  2. How beautiful is this reading! The poem is absolutely lovely and your soothing voice tripled its beauty, Esha. Focus on what brings us joy – that’s the sanest decision one can make. Because otherwise we are working hard every day, but for what? Keep pouring your heart out. Keep doing what brings your heart joy. ❤

  3. Poetry always save the day for me when I got none to write, in expressing the inner beliefs and thoughts Esha. Thanks for motivating me to write with free Sunday writing. A beautiful composition and yes one day at a time helps us in inching closer to our writing goals.

  4. Lovely poem. I’m glad you shared with us, together with your thoughts.
    There is for all of us a moment in which we ask ourselves why, from where and for what we are here. I think this is the start point for discovering our essence.
    Thank you Esha! have a beautiful week!

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