“It’s the only way I have learned, to express myself
Through other people’s descriptions of life”
(Motion City Soundtrack)
She was wearing that little face that she makes when she has a Big Question to ask a Grown-Up: like she’s worried and uncertain but so curious and excited to learn the truth, all furrowed brows and wide eyes, the face that only an inquisitive six year old could make.
“Auntie, what happens to all the tears when you cry? Where do they go? How do you get new tears? Are there lots of tears in your head and they fall out of your eyes when you’re sad? Can you ever run out of tears? Where do they go?”
Into a tissue
The sleeve of your jumper
All over your pillow
Into the toilet bowl
Onto his shoulder
The ends of your hair
Into a box of popcorn
Onto your pet’s fur
Mixed with the bathwater
Into your glass of Chablis
Hospital floors and church floors
Down your legs and into your shoes
Onto letters and photographs
And birthday cards and newspaper articles
To the ground
To the sky
Back into your eyes
“Auntie? Are you listening to me? Can you run out of tears?”
Yes. No. Yes and no.
You can feel like you’ve run out of tears sometimes but trust me, there’ll be more left hiding in you somewhere for another time.
“If I cry too much will the room fill up like the sea like it did for Alice when she cried too much?”
No, baby, that won’t happen. You might feel like you’re drowning in your tears but I promise that the room won’t fill up and the tears will go away and you’ll be okay. I promise.
“Well just in case it does happen and I don’t have a boat, I can just hide in a big bottle like Alice did!”
No, don’t ever hide in a bottle. Hiding in the bottom of a bottle is for cowards. You just have to learn to keep your head up and swim as hard as you can until you’re home and dry.
“I sort of know how to swim…”
You’ll learn, sweetie, I can promise you that. And if you don’t learn on your own, I’ll teach you. I’m a really good swimmer now.
“Are you as good at swimming as a mermaid?”
From hijacked amygdala
Holding On To You
Remember the moment
You know exactly where you’re going,
‘Cause the next moment,
Before you know it, time is slowing
And it’s frozen still,
And the window sill looks really nice, right?
You think twice about your life,
It probably happens at night,
Take the pain, ignite it,
Tie a noose around your mind
Loose enough to breathe fine and tie it
To a tree. Tell it, “You belong to me.
This ain’t a noose, this is a leash.
And I have news for you: you must obey me.”
From Twenty One Pilots
The Jar Heart
I set aside a time to rage
In blue on my calendar
I said I would feel bad for thirty minutes
and go on with life right after
I said I would run faster
And the noise would die down
My feet against the pavement
The ruin of solid ground.
Compartmentalize and detract
put your damn heart in a jar
Keep it there until it runs its course
Encase it in jellied tar
Take the panic from the moment
Instead, leave a hole in your chest
Because at least this way
You’ll maybe get some rest
From A Short Conversation
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.