p>Today’s Yawp comes from veteran Yawper Corey Funk, and it’s a beautiful one, on many levels — the personal, the familial, the social, the political. I’ll let his introduction speak:
I was of two minds (like a tree in which there are two blackbirds) as to my reasons for this yawp. Motivated by the horrific events in Arizona, I felt that I needed to share this poem with others. “If-” contains a kernel of hard truths of what people do to each other. We each will be beaten, will be bruised, will be tricked and deceived. Those are par for the course. What matters is our reaction to those events and our reaction to other people we come in contact with. Don’t let the petty dictators and thousand little barbs of each day make you a beast. Be civil for the road even if that road is hard for everyone and if you can make the journey easier for others by your civility, it costs you nothing and everyone benefits. The other part of my mind was motivated by the homefront. My wife was out of town on business for three days meaning my son and I were left to our own devices. In those moments where I watch him struggle with tasks I recall this poem. He is two years old. Sharing it with him just now isn’t appropriate so I chose to share it with others as universal advice on what hazards lay on the road to Manhood (which I mean to use in a universal, non-gender fashion indicating a fully formed and well-rounded person).
I posted this on a bulletin board in a well traffiked (sp?) hallway of the university I work for.
Thank you, Corey — it’s a comfort to know there are fathers and teachers and, well, people like you in the world.
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!
Not lost but found
This Yawp comes your way via the lovely and amazingly talented Amanda Villalobos, a brilliant artist and one of my classmates at Sarah Lawrence (what’s up, Sadie Lou!), who spotted this amazing poem on a bathroom ceiling at the beach in Provincetown. Hooray for observant eyes and for found art!
“So this is Christmas …”
I will admit it, and usually without shame: I pretty much just plain hate the holidays. The lines, the traffic, the angry drivers moving their minivans backwards without looking in the rear-view mirror, the rash-raising holly-and-reindeer-antler acrylic Christmas sweaters, the toy aisles stacked with toys set to record and replay your voice, and without warning — all of it makes my teeth grind themselves into nubs. I find myself, every year, having to take some time to slow my breathing and concentrate on what I love about the season: the fact that people dig into their wallets and drop dollar bills into Salvation Army buckets, and that, even for a few seconds, they’re filled with generosity — and those few seconds are beautiful seconds.
And so, when I move my mind away from the acrylic sweaters and rear-view mirrors and reindeer antlers stuck into car windows, I think that the way to survive the stresses of the season is to concentrate on the ideas behind the season: generosity, and giving, and what — and whom — one loves. And I do love giving gifts. And there are also a lot of poems about the season I love — and so I decided to combine these things this holiday season by tucking a copy of a poem — including Dickinson’s brilliant and admittedly baffling (that last stanza is a thinker) poem 1487 — in my cards. Enjoy, and remember to breath deeply — and step away from the glittering sweaters.
The Savior must have been A docile Gentleman— To come so far so cold a Day For little Fellowmen— The Road to Bethlehem Since He and I were Boys Was leveled, but for that 'twould be A rugged Billion Miles— -- Emily Dickinson
We have a problem
We are not who we used to be
We have a problem
We are not where we used to be
We have a problem
We have TomToms and Garmins, yet lack direction
We have a problem
We use words that no longer contain their meaning
“Drama” is no longer dramatic
“Legit” is not legitimate
“Literally” cannot be taken literally
“Rape” equates to a silly video of teenagers rough-housing on Youtube
“Pedophilia” has a cuddly internet mascot
We are complacent with mediocrity; brilliance is few and far between these days
We have a problem
What is our problem?
We have too many problems
We have a problem, and what do we do?
Where are the action takers? Where are the ones to enforce accountability?
Where have all the cowboys gone? The ones who mosey in and save our community?
We don’t have those anymore, we have complainers
We have people who say “this used to be good” or “what happened to that?”
We point out what’s wrong with everyone else, and how the good ol’ days were so much better.
We sit in our homes and argue with our TVs about who’s to blame for this and that
Excuse me while I prop up this soap box
I’m issuing a call to arms
Henceforth I decree that we are “fixers” and no longer the ones to break things
We will go out and we will leave things better than when we found them
We will not waste our breath on useless complaints; we need our breath to climb these mountains
We will not point fingers; we need all the helping fingers and hands we can get
We will not turn away those who think differently; we need all the brainpower we can muster
We may have a problem or two
But that’s one of the greater things about mankind: We can find solutions
So it is time to go out and do!
We will not stop until we are literally legitimate again
Actions speak louder than words, so the saying goes
So why am I writing this?