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Pushing Ourselves, Poetry and the Pandemic

Posted in: Blog by amy on April 20, 2020

We have all been locked down for several weeks now during this most unusual time. Whether we are full of hope and optimism or fear and despair, we are all here, experiencing this uncertainty. I have loved reading stories and posts about people embracing this time and finding undiscovered joys that were right in front of them. I have laughed watching videos that highlight dances, silliness and inventions. I have enjoyed hearing how my friends and family have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones by learning to cook new dishes or by teaching themselves how to play a new instrument. 

For me, I have continued to do much of what I have always done when surrounded by uncertainty and when coated in various emotions: I have been writing. But, I, too, want to push myself and challenge myself further. So, as I was scrolling through Instagram this morning, I decided to take on a writing prompt. Rather than write from my own personal sparks of motivation, I let a prompt inspire me. The prompt was “in case of emergency.” 

It was a completely different writing experience — to be motivated by a prompt instead of by my own triggers. The meaning that I discovered in that prompt was surprising to me, but I never questioned it. I wrote furiously, allowing the words to take me on a journey from my childhood to present. At the end, I felt it was one of the better pieces I have written in a while. That surprised me as I have clung tightly to the notion that I write best when I need to write — when there is something gnawing at me, keeping me awake at night. This experience actually turned that theory upside down, reminding me that I don’t know what I have not yet tried. 

There are often statements we make, ones that we believe are our truths. I remember feeling this most certainly when I was pregnant with my third child. Just before heading to my five-month appointment, I was talking with a friend. She asked if I was going to find out what I was having. I said, “No. We are going to be surprised like we were with the first two.” When she asked me why, I responded confidently that I prefer to be surprised. She then said, “But how do you know that if you never tried finding out before?” Her very simple, straightforward question struck me. How did I know that it was preferable for me to be surprised? With an open mind, we went to that appointment and ended up finding out impulsively what we were having. I never regretted giving up on that element of surprise and realized that I equally loved knowing that a little baby girl was growing inside of me. 

Our own truths are something that we often protect fiercely. Yet, again I am reminded to remain open to exploring even my own said certainties. I am grateful that I took on this writing challenge. Now, perhaps, my future writings will be inspired by exterior prompts in addition to my own. May we all continue to explore that space that initially makes us slightly uncomfortable. I have always believed that from that very source of discomfort, we end up evolving and finding the most luminous moments. 


Here is the poem that I wrote based on the prompt “in case of emergency:”




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