Yesterday I went to a grant-writing proposal workshop, and was filled with fear and doubt–as I usually am–at the prospect of winning (or, more to the point, not winning) sums of money for my academic work. “How is my research worth anything,” I wondered, “if I haven’t yet won this award?”
I shared my fear and doubt with a few people at the workshop, who sympathized. Then I told some of my friends about it…and one of them encouraged me directly to write a response to the self-critical voices that I hear in my head.
I did so! My response to my self-doubt is below. As I wrote it, I realized that I am fucking sick of listening to the lies that I’ve constantly told myself (trust me, that’s not the first time I’ve ever had that thought!). And I want to listen–and am currently listening–to the kind and true voices, the ones that lift me up…the ones that help me to love myself.
Here goes. I hope you like it!
A Windswept Peace
I must address the voices that I hear:
They shout my doubt, and whisper in my fear.
They tell me that I’m fucked up, that I’m wrong;
That I am neither smart, nor brave, nor strong.
I cannot flee my anger, or self-hate;
I’ll face them, or be crushed beneath their weight.
To do that, I must counter every lie.
I’ll tell them who I am. Well, who am I?
I am a poet, and I sing the Sun;
I walk between the Many and the One.
I sing in Latin, and I scream my pain;
I find my truths by walking in the rain.
I am the bard of bombs and sarin gas;
I stop Time, and I will not let it pass.
I am the sage of sunflower, and of sea;
I am a vintner of the Mystery.
I am the priest of humour, and of rage:
I break my body on the azure stage.
I limp below the concrete and the steel,
And listen for the choirs that sing the Real.
I am the priest of honour and of shame:
I ask the questions that we dread to name.
I dance on tables filled with verdant grace.
I laugh with rainbows, and I mark their place.
I’m the cryptographer of lonely souls;
I see the gaps, and fill in all the holes.
I can decode the language of the sky;
I know the blue-jay’s call, the pigeon’s cry.
I break the codes of silence and of grief;
I reach out, and would give you my relief.
I unlock ancient tongues, and say their names.
I see the mirth in Roman soldiers’ games.
I am a lover of long cups of tea;
I love to read beneath a spreading tree.
I love to lift a weight, and run a mile.
I love a firm handshake, a brilliant smile.
I am a lover of some forms of dance;
I love the gentle touch, the longing glance.
I love to sing beside a June campfire;
I love to feel the thrill of pure desire.
I love myself; I love my body too.
These words are small, and yet…I know they’re true.
My litany can silence all the cries
Of hatreds, fears, and doubts, and vicious lies.
With every word, I feel myself more whole;
A windswept peace pervades my harried soul.
I know my mission and identity,
And so, for Love and Justice, I am free.