If I was one to believe everything
you all say to me today on face value,
I’m sure I’d swagger, bust my buttons,
and maybe feel right proud to be me.
Instead, I listened to you say
this nice thing and that
about what a good this or that I am,
or this or that I’ve accomplished.
Through the filter of self-doubt,
this is what I heard instead:
That I’ve wasted so much of my life
taking this path or that role,
this course or that job,
making this choice or that mistake.
It’s too late to change now, though.
They all lie behind me. Today,
I value each scar, each lump and dent
I’ve earned in this fun house skull of mine.
I know now what I considered my failures
were the scenery on my swift journey here.
If it looked like the worst of Detroit
or the Pine Ridge Reservation, then I
can say I’ve seen what you’d call
your worst on my way here and the tears
they brought have washed me clean of regret.
I’ll worry about the There ahead when it
becomes the This and That of Tomorrow.
I’ve fought myself, beaten myself brutally, most of my life. I’m only beginning to understand that fact and do something it. But it’s a difficult process. The why of it lies back there in the clouds of exhaust I peek at in the cracked rearview mirror of my memory. I’ve no control over what’s there in the past. In my regret-filled days and nights I would worry more about them because the mirror says they may be closer than they appear. The best I can say about this is that they’re not catching up with me much anymore.