You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,
catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off
the great things you’re meant to do in your life,
but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift
the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.
Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job —
it all stacks up while you keep hoping
for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.
Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.
But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty…
and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom —
when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,
and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die —
and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it’s because the thing is too small, too small,
and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom
that this is what transformation looks like —
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,
the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day
you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn
and the dusk of the body,
just as you are.
by Leza Lowitz
An interesting journey, this emerging into a new stage of your life and the messy process of getting there… I recognise the dissatisfaction with how things are and the tendency to look outside for some ease or resolution, not sure where the change is going to come from. Leza Lowitz, an American expatriate writer who lives in Japan, points in this poem at the companionship we have with the animals that are familiar with transforming and different stages – and there, as well as with us, the change grows from within. And it definitely seems to be helped along by patience, acceptance, and compassion for self when in the midst and in the mess of it…
This poem came from the anthology Poems of Awakening, edited by Betsy Small, which I hadn’t come across before. It is now on its way to me, so expect more poems from that direction in the months to come!
PS Many people are surprised to hear that (self) compassion is something you can practice and grow over time, and you can study it! Both our MSc studies have compassion as a core element of the programme…