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Holding a Direction

Each one I’ve ever known wears despair
Somewhere about him, wrestling with it daily,
And some do private combat only, feeling
That decency forbids exposing others
While some will hide it from the world at large
But stab and beat those closest to them with it
As if it were a clay pot they could break
From off their heads upon their loved ones’ strength.

Some dramatize despair instead of living.
The noises that they tried to call for help with
Have now enfolded and engulfed the human—
Insistent hopelessness, embraced and championed
Enforced, destructively, on all who near them.

Some few have raised this to a theory,
Constructed new philosophies of funk.
Their literature has futile, hopeless endings
With little sprigs of “We must still be brave,”
“Though all is futile, we can still be kind,”
Which sometimes brings them literary prizes
And followings among the insecure.

Yet all of this despair is vicious nonsense.
The grey discouragement which winds our ankles,
Yammers within our heads and sags our spirits
Is only ghostly shapes of childhood terrors
Only scratchy recordings of those bad times
When as dependent children we confronted
A world our store of knowledge could not cope with
When parents turned into despairing robots
And still looked like our parents, leaving us
To face a universe gone mad about us.

These frozen memories re-echo in us
And are exchanged in daily conversation
But not to any purpose nor to good.
Traveling another route we came upon them
And viewed them from their point of origin
And saw without mistake their empty nature
And after much discussion and much discharge
And putting all our clear spaces together
We have a rule that works unfailingly for us.

“Always be positive, be optimistic
Always speak good, always encourage, praise
Always lead our and others’ free attention
To what is reassuring and inspiring.”

To do this is to stand against confusion.
Dark pseudo-thoughts and feelings will assail us
From out our own distresses and from others’,
And if we stand insistent on the up-beat
Those burdened with despairs will come converging
From miles around and pound despair upon us
Apparently to force compliance with it
But really hoping we will stand against it
And force chinks in their gloom and loan them courage.

Ourselves need weep and yawn and storm and shudder
But, as we hold our bearing, all around us
Reality will lift and show its nature
More positive than the stand we took on courage
More reassuring than we dreamed or hoped for.

Harvey Jackins

From Zest Is Best, pages 38 to 39

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00