February 20, 2021

This Scene from “Dead Poets Society” Soothed my Aching Heart.

Last weekend, I watched “Dead Poets Society.”

First of all, it always needs to be mentioned that, damn, Robin Williams was truly the greatest! But that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, I sat in bed, in the same ratty pajamas I’d worn all week, sobbing and soaking up every word.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect, restorative few days off. I ate salt and vinegar chips off my chest in my dirty, “Grandpa Joe” (as my husband calls it) flannel nightgown. (As I said, it was utter perfection.)

Then, of course, life happens.

Enter the multilayered, sh*t-show sandwich:

>> Emotional fatigue.

>> Whiplash from “perfectionist syndrome.”

>> I suck at everything.

>> Shame.

>> I didn’t do enough of X.

>> I did too much of X.

>> I’m unworthy and unlovable.

A real whopper of a sandwich, right?

Yep. And I took a huge bite.

I don’t have pretty words or some poetic recipe for avoiding this feeling. The truth is that sometimes we just have to eat the sh*t sandwich.

We have to cry. Feel it. Own it. Mend it (if we can).

And then? We have to let it go. And we grow.

And sometimes we won’t feel strong while we’re doing that.

Sometimes the hopelessness will set in and cling to our bones.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. And a scene (below) from “Dead Poets Society” keeps popping up.

First, he quotes Whitman to his students:

“Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless,

of cities fill’d with the foolish […]

What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

And then, he asks:

“What will your verse be?”

That question has been following me around and guiding me.

Yes, this life is tough; it can feel unforgiving, stressful, overwhelming, painful, and it often breaks our hearts.

But how lucky are we to contribute a verse?

To fall down and rise back up. To show up for others. To connect and mend and share and cry. To win. And to lose.

How lucky are we to leave poetry—our hearts and passion and actions—on the lips of those we love?

It won’t feel like “a gift” or poetry all the time.

We won’t feel optimistic and strong every day.

But we are here. And we may contribute a verse.


I hope this lifts a little weight off your heart (as it did for me):

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