A Different Life

into this poem I pour
­                                    all my worries
­                                    my pleasure
­                                    effort and leisure
with this poem I explore
­                                    the human condition
­                                    myself a stranger
­                                    in a world become stranger
through this poem I draw
­                                    the past
­                                    the present
­                                    and a possible future
from this poem is a door
­                                    to a family
­                                    a community
­                                    of art, prose and poetry
beneath this poem is the floor
­                                    of my existence
­                                    a place to plant my feet
­                                    a beach a field a street
above this poem is there is more
­                                    than a skyful of clouds
­                                    and a galaxy of stars
­                                    maybe a different life

Kim M. Russell, 7th July 2020


My response to earthweal guest weekly challenge: Looking for a New Hierarchy

This week Sarah has been thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, of which she was recently reminded by a tweet. She says that the tweeter ‘pointed out that Maslow was writing from a particular time and place (America in the 1940s), and his thinking was inevitably affected by the culture he was living in. She gave “ubuntu” as an alternative to self-actualization as the highest point on the pyramid.’

I hadn’t heard of, ‘ubuntu’, a word from Southern Africa that can be translated as ‘humanity’, and a philosophy developed by Jordan Kush Ngubane in the 1950s, another idea developed in a particular time and place. Sarah says that this is a much more community, relationship-based view of what makes a complete human.

Sarah relates these ideas to people’s behaviour during the pandemic and asks us to think about the balance between the individual and the community. Where do we stand on the spectrum between lone wolf and team-player? How do our communities support us? What are the communities we’ve chosen? What are the communities that have been thrust upon us? Can we be human without other humans?  What are the threads that stitch us into place?

I’ve written this poem in 100 words as part of the Lightbox Originals 100 words a day challenge.

23 thoughts on “A Different Life

  1. This is a very wise poem. I am moving towards a similar understanding. Poetry and art are somehow leading us into a new world where the sky is blue and although we can’t read the name on the signpost there is a sense that it is pointjng somewhere new, somewhere good if we ground our creativity into the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Kim. thank you for this reminder that all those things that were seen as frivolous, luxury items have been the things that helped – and still help – so many people at this strange and painful time. Art, music, poetry – they’ve all been so important.

    I like the structure, it gives you a framework and a bit of space. There are sudden, unexpected things in your lists that keep me interested. Thank you for contributing to the earthweal prompt, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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