On our impact…


I’m not a poet, not even close. I’ve written three poems my whole life. The first poem I wrote when I was in about the 3rd grade. I was walking across the yard after an early sleet storm followed by a hard freeze. The poem dictated itself to me as I stepped lightly over the grass encased in ice. I only remember the first line: Listen, listen, to the sound of crunching ice upon the ground. I ran to my bedroom and wrote it down.

The next day at school, I showed a classmate my poem and she called me a liar and said there was no way I wrote it. She said I copied it from a book. I was so insecure at that time, and she was so adamant in her accusation that I almost believed her. When I got home that day I told my mother the story. Mom asked to see the poem. She gave it back to me and said “don’t worry about it.” She told me the girl had actually paid me a compliment, she did say anything else. I didn’t understand what she meant. The words stung, just like most of the words that came out of that girl’s mouth. Were they all compliments? Maybe that’s why I have trouble taking a compliment to this day.

But I digress.

The second poem I wrote in an adult creative writing class a few years ago. I would have to go back to my old notebooks to find it. I only remember the experience of writing the poem, not the poem itself.

The third poem composed itself to me today while I was taking my walk. Walking is a great creative exercise. The poem goes thus:

Tread Lightly on the World, My Friend.

Tread lightly on the world, my friend. Tread lightly.
It bears the weight of each innocent footfall.
The pressure of your heel on the forest bed crushes the acorn.

Tread lightly on the world, my friend. Tread lightly.
The hum of the bicycle tires announces devastation to the carpenters colony.
The spade creates space for flora with fancy names, and evicts those without.

Find your place in the world, my friend. Build your life there.
But where you build, be mindful of the view.
Yours and mine.

Tread lightly on the world, my friend. Tread lightly.

I’m sure there are meter problems and syntax problems and Lord knows it does not rhyme one bit. But, since I am not a poet and have never claimed to be a poet, I’m giving myself a pass.

The subject matter has been on my mind a great deal lately, so the reason the poem recited itself to me is no great mystery. I am looking at the world through my own eyes, while trying to see it through the eyes of others. I am trying to create the world of my dreams while being mindful that my dreams are not shared by most of the world. Humanity and other earthly inhabitants have dreams of their own.

I think it is important that wherever I plant my foot, wherever I build my home, there will be an impact to something or someone, other than myself. This current culture of putting ourselves first and the rest of the world be damned has created an imbalance. The line between “I do what I want,” and compassion for the world and its citizens is a delicate one to walk. Being cognizant and sensitive to our impact on the scenery and the view we create for others is important as we continue to build our lives. Being aware of that makes us better people.

Tread lightly on the world, my friend. Tread lightly.

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