Today’s prompt asks us to write a concrete poem, which is a poem where the lines of words are placed in such a way to form a shape that is in some way connected to the theme of the poem. I wish I knew what uncertainty was shaped like. I’d write a poem in that shape…
The Shape of Uncertainty
It must be kind of wave like,
the shape of uncertainty, because
my uncertainty comes in waves.
Sometimes a little ripple,
sometimes a crashing, roaring tsunami,
whatever the size, the waves keep coming.
I haven’t drowned yet,
because I’ve learned to keep breathing,
catching my breath between the waves,
finding a way to draw the air into my lungs.
Someday when I look back on this
I’ll see that I stayed afloat somehow on this vast ocean.
And though my vessel is tiny, it’s sound.
Come to think of it,
aren’t all emotions shaped like waves?
Love, anger, joy…don’t they all come and go,
uncontrollable, unplanned, vast like the ocean?
I’ll just keep breathing.
Don’t tire yourself out
swimming across the ocean,
thrashing about wildly,
gasping for air.
Sometimes you need to slow down,
let yourself float,
Caught in the trance of unworthiness*
Wondering what to do, where to go,
what to say and to whom,
which book to read,
what action to take,
how to stand, how to sit,
how to walk,
what to eat,
what to drink,
what to wear,
who will understand
all these questions, these doubts,
There is a darkness,
an unspeakable horror in me,
clawing to get out.
It visits me in my dreams at night
and wakes me up.
I feel exhausted by these nightly hauntings.
I want release, relief, respite
from being tossed around on these huge waves
in the infinite ocean of consciousness,
the surface of which
has been stormy for quite some time.
I’m tired of the turbulence,
tired of this endless transition
from what was familiar
into a new life that I cannot see or fathom.
They say I’m at the helm.
They say I have the power.
They say I can change my narrative, my perception,
They tell me I’m better off without him.
This is just talk,
and I am tired of being thrown about endlessly
on enormous waves out in the middle of nowhere,
no land in sight,
on a flimsy vessel that is sinking fast.
I have nearly drowned a thousand times
in the dark waters of my psyche.
Why do I keep thrashing my way to the surface?
I want a safe harbor, a home,
a place of belonging,
a tribe who knows and loves me.
Why in the moment when I most need connection
does it seem that no one is there?
Why with all of this love around
does it not show up in the way I’m wanting?
More questions than answers,
and afraid to go to sleep
because I know what waits for me in the darkness:
than any human should bear.
*Spiritual teacher Tara Brach talks about the trance of unworthiness in her book Radical Acceptance.
I search for meaning
because I want all of this
to mean something…
but what if this was all
What if I could step back,
take a deep breath, relax,
and not see any of this
as a threat?
Peace would come quickly then.
All of the stories of heartbreak,
loss, suffering, injustice
emerge from a sense of self
separate from the world around it.
If I could merge my consciousness
with that of the world’s,
wouldn’t I laugh
at the absurdity of it all?
I could cry all day and night
for twenty years,
and it wouldn’t change
the rhythm of the ocean.
Can I let these waves passing through me
be just another indication
that I am one with the ocean of life?
I spent time in the ocean today.
It was sunny, breezy,
and I was hanging out with a bunch of kids
who were waiting, just like I,
for a perfect wave
to take us into shore.
Yeah, I was on a boogie board,
and everyone else with boogie boards
fell into the male aged 10-12 category.
I’d like to say I was surfing
because that sounds much cooler,
but I haven’t learned how to surf yet
and plus the waves weren’t big enough for that.
I kept my eyes fixed on the horizon,
waiting, waiting for just one good wave to catch.
Some waves seemed too small–
a waste of my time and effort–
but every once in a while,
a powerful wave would arrive
I would ride it back to the beach
coasting into the wet sand
the sandy water covering me and my board
as the wave receded, beckoning me
back into the blue green water.
It struck me how much I was waiting, waiting,
standing there, looking to the horizon.
I focused deeply on the water
to the exclusion of everything else around me,
staring hard to see if what I wanted was coming.
From time to time I’d come to,
take a deep breath, look around,
see families and friends splashing and laughing.
Was I being grim in my fixation
on the water and the lust for waves?
And how much of my life is spent in this way,
waiting, waiting, eyes fixed on the horizon,
staring hard to see if what I want is coming?
I came home with a sunburn
and the memory of the churning water
as it pulled me back,
again and again,
soft white sand
to the point of wanting the shade
of trees growing right on the beach
a friendly cloud…
a walk to slabs of rock
baking in the sun
and warm tidal pools
to offer feet respite
from the burning heat…
hundreds of small crabs
scurrying over the rock
Bob Marley tunes
for everyone to hear
Eating a wonderfully fresh salad
sipping sparkling water
watching my children play.
diving down to the sandy bottom
feeling the cool water,
and then up again
into the warmth of the shallows.
One day at the Playa Blanca in Punta Leona
One day in Heaven.
In the way that many drops of water
combine to form the ocean
and many grains of sand
together make the shore
so it is with our thoughts
and our lives.
What do your thoughts
create for you
bit by little bit
in this one precious life of yours?
And what if your thoughts
open and present
to this moment’s unfolding?
We can train the mind
to be awake
by catching the thoughts
that are keeping us asleep.
Casting our nets
into the ocean of consciousness,
catching whatever we can,
drawing our catch closer to us,
keeping what will be nourishing,
throwing the rest back into the ocean.
Little by little
our mind awakens,
and the mind trained in presence
shines forth with inexplicable
We could try something new.
We could learn to let go,
to drop the rigid ideas
to which we have clung
like a person in the middle of the ocean
clings to a life preserver.
If we could let go into the ocean
We might see how it teems with life.
The one who clings could die to the clinging
and be born as fish
in a great big home with no walls.
I’m in a hotel by the Atlantic Ocean in Cape May, NJ.
We set aside a few days
just to be together as a family.
It is the first time I have seen the ocean
in five years;
tomorrow we will play in the sand.
There were frustrating moments
on the drive here,
but I managed to remember to breathe
deeply every now and again.
I managed to summon compassion
for everyone else who was feeling the same way.
And now, as my husband and two children
sleep quietly right by me–
I wonder about tomorrow,
where I will sit,
how I will find enough quiet to go inwards.
But for now sleep.
Riding the collective wave
of gratitude awareness
that many of us shared today,
I opened my journal
and jotted down a few things
for which I am grateful
right now, here, in this moment…
simple things that I often take for granted
because they are a part of my daily life.
It felt good to recognize them,
to feel the surge of appreciation rising in me.
The words came easily
I began to build momentum.
As I identified one thing I love
four more things arose in my consciousness
and I could’ve gone on forever…
maybe I will.
Maybe unlocking the door
to the sanctuary of gratitude
within my heart
will allow waves of appreciation to keep spilling out
over and over again,
as the vast ocean spills her timeless waves of being
onto the shores of our temporal awareness.