I’d spent the day writing and working out to dispel the gloom of the gray and raining day. My life has been a cycle of balancing inaction with action. This gives a false sense of security most of the time, but it gets me through the day. I have a hard time being unproductive as it feels like a waste of time. This need for productivity is the by-product of learning to live a normal life after having spent so many years in trauma filled environments. If I’m always in motion, then I don’t have time to examine myself or all the little demons hanging out in the corner. That pile of shame I swept under the rug—nope, no time for that.
In my life as a writer, I have met other writers who have put themselves in positions that filled their lives with bad emotions and dark drama. They consumed intoxicating things, so they’d have something edgy to write about. I often see the need to conform to the stereotypical tortured poet vibe. Not everyone needs to be Bukowski or Rimbaud. They didn’t seem like they liked their lives very much to begin with. Deep down these writers all had something to say but worried about their acceptance.
Today I fell into a rabbit hole of spoken word poets. That glorious monster YouTube swallowed me whole and who I found was a writer named Phil Kaye. In his Ted Talk he read a poem about his grandfather who had passed away a few years before. “My grandfather wasn’t a strong man, but he knew what it meant to build.” The story went on from there to create a beautiful story about generations of men building things with their hands and hearts. At the end, he tells us that his grandfather handed him a pen and paper, shrugged his shoulders, and told him to build something. Kaye says, “I began to build the only way I know how.”
This idea pressed upon me. Not all of us have the talents to build tangible objects or pieces of art you can see. Some of us capture moments in time or see the world like no one else can. I have written poems since I was ten, but over the years I never thought much about them after I let them go. Poems were the place I went to figure myself out. I published some of them. Other people would read them. My goal with any poem is to touch one other person, and for me that meant I had done something right.
Phil Kaye did this to me. I sat weeping at the kitchen table over how touching his relationship was with his family and how they knew the job he must do. He reminded me of the importance of writing and believing in myself. He gave me a new perspective on something I have worked on for thirty-six years. Listen to his stories. You won’t be disappointed.