A Sensitive Humanity

However strong we claim to be, we’re all vulnerable. Disappointment, tragedy, and sorrow spare no soul. Healing begins when we’re gentle with each other and kind towards ourselves.

In Power of Gentleness Anne Dufourmantelle writes: “Being gentle with objects and beings means understanding them in their insufficiency, their precariousness, their immaturity, their stupidity. It means not wanting to add to suffering, to exclusion, to cruelty and inventing space for a sensitive humanity, for a relation to the other that accepts his weakness or how he could disappoint us” (15).

I admire Dufourmantelle’s wisdom and appreciate the poetry within her prose. Her call for a sensitive humanity has inspired me to articulate my thoughtful approach to life and writing.

As a vulnerable artist, I affirm the power of humility, acknowledge my limitations, and admit to feeling sad, lonely, and afraid. I recognize that everyone suffers in their own way, and in my words and through my actions, I show people compassion and encourage them to do the same.

Not everyone will get the message, but I’ll pursue my (com)passion anyway because I can’t do otherwise. I can’t be otherwise.

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Nourishment

I touch my lips
To every mouth
She calls her own

Hunger
Like sorrow
An acquired taste

Trauma And Creation

In Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living, Anne Dufourmantelle tells depressed people looking for a quick fix that “medication only patches up the desire to live, or the heartache, or the professional failure, or the feeling of inadequacy; for nothing can sew up such a wound. Nothing except creation, what reopens the wound elsewhere and differently, but on less shifting ground” (86).

Three months ago, I published my third book, once again creating and re-creating myself through words. In the introduction I recall the pain of childhood traumas, (re)opening—in the pages of my book—old wounds that refuse to close for good.

Confessional writing is cathartic, but sharing my story reminds me how vulnerable I am, how lonely I still feel. I crave connection but worry that people outside my family won’t understand my depression. After years of living in protect mode, letting my guard down takes time.

Aware that trauma survivors—especially those abused as children—deal with trust issues, Dufourmantelle offers encouragement and hope. “When we are seized,” she writes, “by the feeling that nobody will ever come to us, that this solitude will not loosen its grip on us, ever, we must still find the strength to extend our arms, to kiss, to love” (98).

People live with pain in different ways. Some become artists. I am one of them. My books are an extension of me, a reaching out, a kiss. My writing is an expression of loneliness that challenges but never defeats loneliness.

See a previous version of this post here

Ode: Lake Arlington Larry

Here’s to a gentle man
Walking counterclockwise
In the bike lanes
Around Lake Arlington
Smiling like a child

Here’s to a gentle man
An earth-conscious soul
And repeat recycler
Digging through trash cans
For plastic gold

Here’s to a gentle man
Humming a tune
No one else hears
While mothers stretch
Their legs in yoga pants

Here’s to a gentle man
A shirtless student
Of suburban Zen
Timing his laps
With an ancient stopwatch

Here’s to a gentle man
Who calls himself Larry
Waving at strangers
On different paths
To the same destiny

Breakup Song

Tell me what will be will be no more
Tell me we just drifted apart
Tell me love hurts
Tell me love scars

Tell me I was your thirst
Tell me you think of me when you hum
Tell me I sweat the small stuff
Tell me to grow a pair

Tell me size more or less matters
Tell me I’m the one that got away
Tell me love is a battlefield
Tell me all you need is lust

Tell me I’m more than a hound dog
Tell me I’m a good boy
Tell me I drove you mild
Tell me I don’t look fat in these jeans

Tell me nice guys let the girl finish first
Tell me you never faked the news
Tell me you bought my book on Amazon
Tell me the shipping was free

Tell me God is binge-watching us
Tell me everybody dies in the end
Tell me I’m a good sinner
Tell me fate isn’t fair

Tell me what will be will be no more
Tell me we just drifted apart
Tell me love hurts
Tell me love scars

Summer Solstice

Forget snowstorms
And wind chills

I want Summer
In my hemisphere
This Valentine’s

A flirty girl
With strappy shoes
And silver toe rings
To boot

Baring her soles
At the foot
Of my bed

To soothe me
And for me
To soothe