Poetic License

You know how there are no “rules” in poetry as long as you do it intentionally?

That’s poetic license.

Somewhere halfway through April (National Poetry Writing Month), the wheels came off, and I couldn’t write. Or maybe it’s more precise to say I didn’t feel like writing. I chose to stop writing. On purpose.

Poetic license.

All my life, I’ve done things because I “should”, because I’m “supposed to”, because it’s “expected”, which eventually morphed into what I “wanted to do” because I had lost my individuality within the mess that was what everyone else wanted me to be and do.

That’s not all bad.

I grew up, stayed out of trouble, got good grades and a college education, started a career and a family… all good things. Except they were at the core a means to please others (and gain approval) more than they were an expression of who I was and thus attain an elusive “inner peace”.

This is complicated, because when you’re IN IT, it’s very difficult to separate the “should dos” from the “choose to dos”. They sort of become one.

But they aren’t.

And eventually, you break.

I broke.

That was about 3 and a half years ago.

The changes since then are too numerous to count. Mostly for the good, with a couple episodes I wish I could do over.

I’m removing “should” from my vocabulary.

Not gonna lie – it makes me look a little selfish sometimes.

But I learned – the very hard way – that if you never consider yourself, eventually you have nothing left with which to care for anyone else.

So, when I got to the middle of April and the poetry prompts felt more like an obligatory chore than a joyful exercise of thoughts into words, I stopped.

I SHOULD have finished. I’d made a commitment.

But I didn’t want to. And guess what – when I didn’t write the remaining 15 poems of the month, no one died. It’s quite likely almost no one noticed, and a few may have even rejoiced (you know who you are).

Don’t get me wrong – that was a HARD choice. Part of me very much WANTED to fulfill that self-made commitment to myself… but to what end? Self-congratulatory adulation? It didn’t make sense.

There were better ways to care for myself which ultimately put me in a place where I was in a better space to be of use to others, which is SO much healthier than just “being useful”. Ask me about my aversion to Thomas the Tank Engine sometime.

Thomas and all those poor saps on Sodor cared about one thing: Being Useful.

Usefulness is not the end all, be all of existence. Not if you want to enjoy some peace while you travel around and around the sun.

Finding yourself and your place in the world is also not the ultimate purpose.

But it comes first.

“Heresy!”, say my “believer” friends and family?

Maybe. I guess I have to live with that. And I can. I’ve got a license.

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