Sunday, April 27, 2014

Keeping My Balance

Here on the tightrope, where a single step,
Forward or back, demands a perfect sense
Of balance and awareness, how I wish
The world would stop trying to knock me off—
Just stop—stop throwing things at me, as if
I was the object of some Hit Me game—
Hit Me and win a prize; Hit Me and watch
Me fall—as if I'm up here to supply
What the world wants from every tightrope walker:
Not expertise, but failure; not success
But just the right kind of undone endeavor. 

If there’s a trick to doing this well, then
The trick is not to lean into the wind
Of the world’s snort so much that I tip over,
And not to be so flattered by the world's
Approval that I fall the other way.
Eyes front, arms out; keep my feet supple and
Ignore the catcalls—they’re as worthless as
The world’s applause: one means I gave them what
They wanted, and the other means the same.

If I take one to heart, that means the other
Can undermine my equilibrium—
So I must never listen to the jeers
Or yearn to hear the clapping of acclaim.
Both of them are the world’s way of proclaiming
“We get to say whether you’re good or not,”
And neither one can guide me as I step
Into thin air and make this tightrope mine.

Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells

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