Movember Poem – “If”

A manly poem for Movember, as we focus on the soul care of men.

“If-”
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! See Less

A Psalm of Life

Another poem for National Poetry Month

A Psalm of Life

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

If

For National Poetry month, one of my favorite poems:

If—
By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Couple Poems for the New Year

Here are a couple poems we read to our family last night, New Year’s Eve, to wrap up 2014 and ring in 2015. They’re not our gold standard, or mission, or vision, or the pinnacle of poems…but they’re good and what we wanted to go to sleep thinking about.


Work, by Henry Van Dyke

Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say, Continue reading

Learn to communicate, not write, by writing

You have a voice, and whether speaking or writing, discovering it can prove difficult, even exasperating. How do you do it? You’re listening to a fellow explorer, not a master, nor even an amateur. But here’s what I’ve found useful so far.

The first two points are mental and intellectual, as, in truth, communication always begins.

First: Pay attention

You have to notice how you talk in real life, everyday, with people. Are you formal informal? Do you say Hi Hello or Hey? Do you say Good Morning, Mornin’ or a Good Day? Pay attention to your patterns. Then compare and contrast those patterns with how you email those same people. Are they the same or different? Work on matching the two. Not to force it, but to make your emails sound like you.

Second: Self talk
How do you talk to yourself? Are you a comedian? A professor? An expert? The sage? An assistant? Philosopher, Counselor, Psychologist? On what subject(s) do you dwell? You may find that you view yourself in many roles, and you will find that there are roles that you never want to play (e.g., I never think of myself in a large classroom teaching, but I imagine myself teaching a small class, informally).

These two points aren’t about right or wrong – it’s about finding out how you think you do things, and how you A. really do things and B. how you want to do things.

Third: Write
Just start writing. Below are some tools to get you going. This step is also largely mental. Why don’t you write? What are you afraid of? I was afraid of revealing thoughts to the world. Your thoughts are you, plain and simple. And when you put yourself out there, you risk being negatively criticized. This leads to the why of your writing – activism, sharing happiness, making people see the light, etc…but that’s not for this topic. If you want it private, just get a locked journal and write a sentence whenever you want. You have to feel free to write, so don’t just start with “I will write 20 minutes a day no matter what.” If you need something private and electronic, then open up Notepad (or whatever the equivalent is on a Mac or your device) and type. Then don’t copy or save it – hit delete.

*Free Tools*

The following tools are great and free ways to practice communicating through the written word.

*Email* – practice writing like you. TAKE NOTE: There should be more to you than just one type of conversation. You can have your own way of saying things, but you will talk to your parents differently than you talk to your spouse, than to your children, than to your friend, than to your congresscritter. So when you write your emails, take note of how you actually speak when speaking to a friend, contrasted with how you speak to the president of your company. Make it you, but be aware.

*Poetry* – Poetry, in all of it various forms (more than you might think), especially Haiku, is excellent for distilling your thoughts into speech. You get to explore different ways of conveying information, experiences, feelings, and so on. I prefer Haiku (3 unrhymed lines, 5-7-5 syllables, in the present tense), as it is about as succinct as one can get. Like this:

I prefer Haiku
A way to communicate;
It is quite succinct

*Twitter* – Just get on there and type. Make it private if you really don’t want to show the world your stuff. There’s nothing magic about 140 characters, but it’s a simple way to limit yourself (Notepad++ is a free and small program that counts words). As any artist knows – and this applies to poetic forms – creativity thrives, and even requires, some kind of limitation.

*LinkedIn* – This allows you to write for business or professional purposes. You have to think differently here than on Twitter or Facebook. You’re in the pro world on LinkedIn, and you’re actually building your business network, persona and reputation. So you can learn how to voice your thoughts professionally and more formally.

*Facebook* – this is both a learning and a diagnostic tool. You can share new things with family and friends and see how they react. Take note of what people respond to. Your wisdom and wit might not be appreciated by family and friends – a prophet has no honor in his hometown. 🙂 Photos that you take and share are typically much more popular than ideas you may share. So on the venue of Facebook, you could try to lighten people’s day with natural beauty and encouraging words. But be you! Write as you, share as you – do your best to present the total you here. Write posts so that people get to know you – they’re your friends and family, so let them know your political thoughts, spiritual journey, household goings-on, share photos of the family, ask for help.

*Blog* – Yes, there’s blogging, like WordPress. But it’s usually a little more complicated (design, layout, features, buttons), while the others are straightforward. I’m not against blogging at all (as you can see from my blog), but it can be a little tedious when you’re learning to write and you have all of these features and options and gadgets on the screen. Free is good, so just take 10 minutes to sign up for and into a free site and start writing. If it helps, then by all means do it!

Happy Writing!