I don’t remember the last time I wrote a poem. A group I spoke to recently gave me a book of poems on the environment, pictured below, and I didn’t have the presence of mind to decline it, as I try to with most material gifts.
Reading it led me to think in poetry, or to try to express myself with it. I’d feel vulnerable sharing with the public something personal, raw, and unrehearsed, but I live by my practice that I have low standards the first time, meaning I don’t judge early tries. I prefer motivating trying.
So below is my first attempt at poetry in decades. I don’t pretend it’s quality work, only that I did it. If I keep at it, I’ll improve future work from the experience. I’d like to edit it beyond what I have, but I’d rather post something than nothing and learn from the experience.
I’ll edit it in time.
The Joy of (not) Flying
The joy of flying is the joy of a party someone else is paying for. Fun and games for all. Why worry about tomorrow? The joy of flying is the joy of a molten lava chocolate cake, indulging in the moment. Gooey sweet. Tomorrow is another day. The joy of flying is a line of cocaine. “I deserve it. I've earned it.” What a rush. Who cares how it got there. The joy of flying is the joy of craving always another place to visit. Show it off on your news feed. Cross it off and add another. The joy of flying is the joy of irresponsibility. “It's for family and work. I had no choice.” Ignore alternatives. Ignore that flying dispersed communities in the first place. The joy of flying is the joy of helplessness: “I'm a victim!” Blame them. “I can't change the system.” The joy of flying is the joy of ignorance. Something is polluting the environment. “They should stop.” “What do I have to do with it?” The joy of flying is the joy of separation, dispersing family and community. Why families live so far in the first place. Call once a year “quality time.” The joy of flying is the joy of neediness. “I just have to get away!” “How can I live without escape?” The 99% who can't afford it can breathe the fumes. The joy of flying is the joy of paying to drill, extract, refine, and burn fossil fuels for your benefit, claiming it's not your choice when it dispersed your family and community in the first place, while telling others to stop polluting while indulging in a privilege a fraction of 1% of humans could ever experience, imposing the costs, poison, and greenhouse emissions on the other 99+%, including all future generations, while telling businesses that pollute to change but when I fly they should deal with my habits and when I hear people choose not to fly they're privileged. The joy of not flying is the joy of deliberate practice while others party. Working hard. Building team work and shared experience. The joy of not flying is the joy of time with my neighbors and community. Who knew their rich past and struggles? As rich, complex, and varied as those others fly to. The joy of not flying is the joy of nature, watering plants, walking in the woods. My windowsill garden as natural as the Amazon. I grow instead of destroy. The joy of not flying is the joy of performance. Practice paid off. From being with the team. The joy of not flying is the joy of time with family, being there when they need me. Able to hug and see the sparkle in each other's eyes. Not three thousand miles apart. The joy of not flying is the joy of exotic food that grows nearby. Foraging berries, mushrooms, and farmers markets. Turnips more exotic than mangoes. The joy of not flying is the joy of changing my baby's diaper. Year after year. No questions asked. The joy of not flying is the joy of seeing my baby graduate. No parties compare with the diapers I changed. To grow my flesh and blood. The joy of not flying is the joy of integrity, living my values, even (especially) when challenged. Active, deliberate, intentional choice. Making me aware of what I care about. The joy of not flying is the joy of connecting to life with my heart. It's not out there. It's in here. The joy of not flying is the joy of developing skills to create the meaning I want. Adventure, learning, growth, discovery. It's not out there. It's in here. The joy of not flying is the joy of accepting you can't see everything and everyone everywhere. Enjoy here and now, Which is all there ever is or will be. The joy of not flying is the joy of freedom from craving and others' control. Making you want more. Selling you to scratch the itch they created. The joy of not flying is the joy of acknowledging the state of the world. Front-page headlines. For decades. The joy of not flying is the joy of empowerment to do what you think is right. You're not a powerless victim. You can affect the system polluting the world. The joy of not flying is the joy of stewarding what we value. That others depend on your for. That you inherited and leave for others. The joy of not flying is the joy of deciding once and for all to live by what I care about, venture into the unknown of not doing what I've always done, what society makes easy and convenient, what is polluting and threatening life and human society, confident that I can resolve my problem, enthusiastic to develop in myself the ability to create more adventure, culture, diversity, exoticness, accomplishment, and anything flying could provide but with my neighbors, my local nature—woods I can explore, plants I can grow, rivers I can swim—putting faith in my neighbors, resolving problems instead of escaping them, investing practice and work in my family and teams for payoffs unimaginably greater for my struggle, accomplishing more than any mountain I could climb, relaxing more than any beach, learning more than by observing any foreign culture, tasting more for having planted the seed and watered the sapling, connecting with humanity by living like them, not parachuting in and watching them like animals at a zoo, then flying back out without meaningfully connecting, attacting my family to live closer, loving the ones I'm with—the birds trees, fruit, mushrooms—instead of threatening them, fostering them, being them.
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