I am not an accomplished poet. I never have been and I never will be. I’m fine with that. I had one of those moments the other day, as I was out walking, when I felt completely connected to my life. Everything made sense, good moments and bad moments. It felt as if all my experiences had been necessary to make me what I am today. For some time now, I have felt content with who I am. I have realised that I should not work to change myself but to strive to be the best version of myself.
We live in a society where we are told that it is possible to achieve anything, to become anyone we want. That’s not true. What is possible is to become the best version of who we are. Our relationships depend on us being the best of who we are. Particularly our relationship to ourselves. Who wants to go to the mirror and not recognise the person reflected?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was seventeen. I don’t think I actually knew what a poem was until I was about eighteen. I must have seen, at some point in my childhood, words structured in verse form and thought that would be a good way to record my thoughts. A friend of mine saw my verse and said, ‘wow, you write good poetry.’ She was a kind friend. Poetry! I suddenly had a name for what I was writing. I’ve come to realise that I was born with a poet’s mind. That’s nothing grand, it just explains why I see the world the way I do and why I interact with it the way I do. Having a poet’s mind does not make a person a naturally gifted poet, unfortunately.
Writing poetry has been the way I formulate my understanding of the world. Words are such strange creatures: they appear so empty and yet they are so full of other people’s meanings. I’ve found that when writing poetry, good or bad, I can make the words my own – at least a little bit my own. Poetry is about what’s going on between the words so you have to really concentrate on what the poet is saying and not what the words are saying.
Anyway, the poem below was recently pulled out of my tin-box of scribbles. I thought it had some merit and that it needed airing. So here it is. It reminds me how much I believe that living life properly should be our religious practice. Perfection is not the point.
chiselled saints born from cold
of stone, what use are these to those
of us, born of wood
what god is it who asks
we chip away the rest
of who we are, to reach the cold
of soul within?
where is the nitty, gritty saint
the mucky one who finds the heart
in the act
of love, the act of loving god,
the act of being real?