Letter to a friend
Writing takes courage. Reading out loud in public takes courage. Standing up and being counted takes courage. We grow used to it as we go along, and slowly we grow more courageous. But from time to time we all have doubts about our creative abilities and our poetic self-worth. And those first steps are very painful, especially if we ‘expose’ our inner being for public viewing.
Writing doggerel doesn’t take courage. Standing up and reading doggerel is easy. It’s easy because it doesn’t matter. When you take your life in your hands, dip a pen into it, and squeeze red blood onto the page, then you are taking part in a courageous act, one that defines you and throws you out there, naked before the world. That takes courage. It takes courage precisely because it matters: you are creating poetry that expresses the authenticity of your being.
Poetry, well written, well thought out, brings those seemingly small existential realities home to us all, both as readers and as writers. That is why writing and reading poetry is so important, especially in this seemingly non-poetic world. It is our task, as poets, to bring back the creativity and to challenge all those who would devour our souls in the name of nihilism and nothingness.
Sometimes the smallest acts are the most courageous … but we don’t always realize that. The continuation, day to day, of those actions that keep us alive is supreme bravery. To live is to be brave, especially when we age. Old age is not for cowards.
Small steps, small acts, small journeys, a step at a time, a word at a time, a poem at a time. Be courageous in all those tiny little things: one day, you will be ready to take the plunge and to step courageously into the wide and spacious ocean of the greater unknown that surrounds us.
May stepping stones, constructed from poetry, lead you safely on.