Monthly Archives: October 2011

why did i leave?

Why did I leave?

Because I want to feel
that when I am sixty
when my teeth are no longer
my own
and my hair is yellowing from
and not a bad dye job
When I have to eat small portions
When I wear purple with red
When I no longer feel guilty
about eating bread
three times a day
when I use my bus pass
to get into town
when a perm is no longer
a cause for a frown
and I’ve got fifteen
and four great-ones
And my children are
all grown up
and living in sin

that everything I did
was right for me.

I left
because you weren’t meant to be.



Today’s events have made me think of a poem I used to teach.

We walk to the ward from the badly parked car,
with grandma taking four short steps to our two.
We have brought her here to die and we know it.

You check her towel, soap and family trinkets,
pare her nails, parcel her in the rough blankets
and she sinks down into her incontinence.

It is time, John. In their pasty, bloodless smiles,
in their slack breasts, their stunned brains and their baldness
and in us, John: we are almost these monsters.

You’re shattered. You give me the keys and I drive
through the twilight zone, past the famous station
to your house, to numb ourselves with alcohol.

Inside, we feel the terror of the dusk begin.
Outside, we watch the evening, falling again
and we let it happen. We say nothing.

Sometimes the sun spangles and we feel alive.
One thing we have to get, John, out of this life.

Simon Armitage

tiny little steps.

At some point in your life, you’ll encounter a side of yourself that you never really knew existed. It will arrive in the form of a niggling feeling, germinated in the very back of your brain; as it fights its way closer to the fore you will find yourself asking questions of yourself that you never dared ask. Gradually, you’ll begin to realise that things need to change. You will make tiny, tentative steps towards making yourself a better person and achieving that happiness that you are just sure awaits you at the other side. You’ll go to bed asking yourself questions and you will awake with them still unanswered; soon, you will realise that these matters need more than just ‘sleeping on it’.

Then one day, a new revelation will completely blindside you. It will arrive at an unwanted time and will almost certainly come from out of the blue ether when you least want to acknowledge or think of it. It will stick like glue to the front of your mind, a reminder of that thing that you need to do. The tentative steps are no longer enough. It’s time to turn them into a great big leap.

This is where we, as humans, hit a crossroads.

Some of us will fear this intuition. We will choose to retreat and ignore it, thinking that one day, we will wake up and it will have disappeared back into the night as quickly as it came. We will cling to that we know, taking solace and comfort in the bland events that make up our life. We will pursue that we have come to tire of; we will take back those tiny little steps and return to whence we came. We will be happy, for the time being. It’s nice. It’s normal. It’s our life, after all.

Others will take a breath. They will mull it over. They will weigh it up, chew it hard and spit it out again and again. They will count their blessings, count their curses and truly listen to the little voice that tells them… this isn’t working. They will decide, and undecide. They will sleep less. They will choke on tears of frustration, and seek solace in their time alone. Eventually, they will stand at the edge of the void, stare it right in the eyes… and jump.

The measure will only arrive at a much later time in life. Twenty years on, we will sit in our armchair, beset on all sides by the choices we have made and we will listen to that little voice once more. It will still be there – trust me.

Some of us will smile, the kindness in our eyes fuelled by a lifetime of chances taken, choices made and risks attempted.

Others will only look back with regret and a sense of ‘what could have been.’

Some of us are strong. Some of us are not so strong.

In life, it is all to easy to blame the universe for our choices. However, our choices are called ‘our choices’ because they are exactly that… Ours.

Your body is the most amazing, resilient and fluid object you will ever have in your own hands. It knows what you want to be. If you fight it, it will fight back every step of the way.

Don’t be that person who looks back on their life with regret.

Your choices are always half chance. Don’t settle for anything but that which you want. Don’t be a ‘what could have been.’

Be a ‘what was.’