Don’t follow me, I run into walls

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

Since my fall down our sidewalk the other day, I’ve been angry with myself; frustrated by the limits my healing injuries have imposed.

Fortunately, instead of continuing on in this unhelpful mode, while stacking some papers on my always untidy work desk, I ran across some poetry I’ve printed off at one time or another.

Do not stop reading.

I understand the pain many feel when reminded of the poems taught in some high school English classes. My school taught Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn and Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. This poetry required multiple footnotes and, to my restless teenage mind, unfathomable explanations.

As a college double-major in English and library science, I was required to study poetry again. This poetry course revealed poems that painted intriguing pictures or expressed emotions or experiences I recognized. It was a revelation.

Since then, when I run across a poem, or phrases in a poem that speak to me, I print them off to read again and again.

When one is fighting whatever demons that are current in one’s life, poetry can be just as helpful a tool as a sword. Here are some examples:

  • From the 13th Century poet Rumi, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
  • From Jane Hirschfield’s poem August 31, 2006, “You work with what you are given.”
  • And from Buddha: “In the end, only three things matter, how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

I know anger is not meant for me, I know I am constantly surrounded by miracles, and I know that I have what I have and others have what they have. We all know these things, but it is good to be reminded.

If, like me, there are times you seem to be running into walls, try remembering the power of poetry. As poet Robert Frost said: “… Poetry is a momentary stay against confusion. …”

May your confusion be brief and your momentary stays against it be long.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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