The poem / reflection below was written in December of 2022.
I moved seven times in the first eight years after college.
The surest way to solve a problem, I was sure, is to be where you aren’t.
And there always is the rush of a new space—blank walls, empty corners, nothing yet decided, nothing yet forgotten, nothing screwed up yet.
I started this younger, with notebooks—I still have a shelf lined with tomes starting “I’m sorry I didn’t finish that last one,” embellished with curlicues, ladybugs, and grief.
There’s beauty in a restart; there’s comfort for this brain of mine in a “clean” slate. But the beauty carries pain with it—
—Unavoidable stabs of regret over mistakes, neglect, and unfinished business.
—The gnawing ache of lost former things.
—And eventually, the remembering: that suffering will find us wherever we live.
Some of the suffering is mundane, chronic—the personal burdens I’ve been given to bear. I suffer when I forget to pay bills or make doctor’s appointments; I suffer when my temper gets the best of me; I suffer when I forget to remember what I care about.
But some is the kind of world-shaking suffering that visits us all (though in different ways): loss of family, loss of friends, death, destruction, conflict, barrenness.
Because, if I’m honest, at least part of that impulse—to leave, to start over, to move to a new place and write a new story—is the fight to protect myself. New walls are a new fortress—new doors are new boundaries, and maybe, just maybe, this time they’ll keep the darkness out.
New beginnings can be beautiful. But each new beginning here and now is a step forward that will also be taken back.
Backward, forward—a push, a pull—pain, then release—a birth pang, if you will.
We yearn for new beginnings because our heart yearns for the newest, best beginning of all.
No more sorrow. No more loss. No more hate, and violence, and death.
Through each pang of this world—through each broken heart and cry of sorrow, it’s making its way here.
It’s already coming.
Already, but not yet.