The Past Lives in the Gut

The past coils into our guts like a snake.  The longer we live the tighter it coils to contain its length and girth.  Always at its center resides the sins of our youth and along its body the tumors of our mistakes and missteps.  Some maybe are better and have the unblemished serpent that can be drawn out smooth and clean like the skin of a baby.  Others, not so much.  As a writer I have been trying to uncoil the snake and exam it and wonder at how I ended up the man I am and try and make sense of the life I have lived.  What then is off limits in this writing?  It is my life after all.  What if in these struggles to come to terms with the past I begin to uncover and expose the tail where the darkness is anchored?  What if I tremble at its rising and want to keep it down, coiled in my gut?

Writing can help me come to terms with the boy and man I was in the past and help me become the man I want to be.  I believe Rilke, “You must change your life.”  I also believe James Wright, “I have wasted my life.”  It is in both of these last lines of great poems that I take heart.  One exhorting me that only I can make the changes I need to become the man I want to be.  And I take it Rilke means with the help of art.  Wright’s line lets me know that it is the realization that even if I wasted my life I can now move forward no matter what the past was and deal with it honestly.  And I take it he means living with mindfulness. Writing brings me awareness and writing is the one thing I have that can enable me to come to grips with the past to become the man I need to be.  Even lying in a hammock watching as “A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.”

Peace my friends. I need to find an antacid.

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