The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.
By Carl Sandburg
I love this poem. In fact I love the collection it comes from; Staying Alive-real poems for unreal times. Sometimes when things are getting a bit too much it’s amazing how the words and wisdom of a distant other can strike a chord and encapsulate a situation when we can’t.
For me this poem is about communication. Are you approaching potential conflict defensively and ready to bite, or calmly, ready to resolve. It jumped out at me because it is exactly what I needed to think about today.
All too often we keep pushing through, doing it tough, and not actually stopping to reflect on the emotional flash-points in our day. This attitude certainly gets things done but the lack of vulnerability can leave us isolated and maybe a bit misunderstood? When I’m feeling like that my first response is usually to call a friend or relative, discuss or diffuse things by sharing with another. But recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more retrospective.
Reading and listening to a source outside your immediate circle can be very powerful. Poems aren’t for everyone but what about quotes, mantras, podcasts, books. All these things allow us to think about what we are dealing with without having to talk about it. We are giving ourselves a bit of take up time. Time to reflect before we respond or react.
And sometimes when we’re open to reconciling our world the right words seem to find us…