Through fear, Blinding light,
And Crossroads unnumbered,
Lost before their time, or Stolen,
I reach for them.
For myself, for their beloved;
The people who’ve been left behind,
Wanting, looking, anticipating,
Wondering if We all will succumb in Darkness.
As We search,
I reach for them.
I reach for more; I reach for Tenderness, Compassion,
For something to bring back my Hope.
I reach for them.
Every so often, an occasion causes me to confront and reflect upon my purpose and sense of self. At a recent writers’ workshop in Los Angeles, my peers and our teenage mentees were tasked with stretching our Poet’s wings with a prompt on “reaching”. The presenters challenged us to delve into our deepest desires and fears by asking us to contemplate something we have been reaching for. After around 5 minutes, I beheld the blurb above on half a page of my journal.
Whenever I have the privilege of attending this writer’s workshop, the creative minds and voices of each individual present always empower me and leave me in awe. In a room of more than 70 female writers and professionals, the community enables room for a multitude of voices, from the raw to the delicate, an agreement between all of us. In our space, the community aims to be safe and comforting, where there is no such thing as imperfection or limitation, and the only contract being to maintain respect and remain present throughout each activity. We endeavor to create and be open to writing at least one piece during our time together. Most of all, after each portion of a workshop, we endeavor to reflect upon each other’s voices and experiences by inviting everyone to speak their minds and recite writings on a soapbox.
When I was younger, I started this program from a different vantage point, as a novice, and joined with nothing more than my imagination, acerbic wit, and a favorite ink pen in hand. At the time, the program gave me the chance to look beyond the pressures and confines of my school’s hallways and sickbed at home, a chance to discover other parts of myself that had always been present, though not quite given allowance to be developed.
Surrounded by encouragement and the support to simply be myself and trust my voice, I found a saving grace that lasts me to this day. In fact, after rejoining the program this year as creator and mentor, I still find myself feeling like that student who was invited to sit with a community of quirky, incredible strangers for the first time. I am empowered and always transfixed when given the opportunity to hear each wonderful story. Of course, each interaction with our mentees also reminds me of the struggles of my own young adulthood, which are still somewhat present in me to this day.
As I finished writing that five minute poem this past weekend, I realized that some of my desires from the past are still analogous with my current longing and hope. Although many years have passed since my initial devastation, I still long to hear the voices of people who I’ve lost, to be able to walk into a room and feel their presence at birthdays and Sunday dinners. I still long to travel the world and to be breathe in the air of ancient places while standing in the footsteps of the ‘Greats’. Most of all though, I just want to be able to walk and feel comfortable in my own skin, whether that be after long, discouraging days, or the happiest moments with the people that I love most. I want to stand on my own soapbox and have the courage, conviction, and humility to express my deepest thoughts and hopes. Without fail, I hope to come away inspired, transfixed, and saddened by the raw, poignant stories that manifest during each moment.
I reach for many things…
A place to call my own.
Laughter on my darkest days, and warmth on the most tumultuous nights.
Hugs and cuddles that nearly suffocate, and that bring peace and comfort with every moment.
A chance to breathe without feeling a horrible proverbial weight upon my upper body.
For understanding, for choice, for reason.
An imagination that interprets the world in color, lace, and fairy tales, with Gothic inspiration.
To be comfortable in my own skin.
Peace, though I don’t quite know what that means yet.