instinct

when birds sing
are they aware of their audience?

or do they simply sing
because they know they must?

be the bird you hear through your window
who doesn’t know you’re listening.

sing
not because someone is listening
but because you know you must.

you never know whose ears your song will reach
& you may never find out.

perhaps it is better that way.

again & again

it seems to me that all these books
contain again & again
a single truth
each breath
each page
an iteration never-ending
we seek it
in each new
book
taste
lover
until one day
if we're lucky
we see we've held it
in our hands all along.
even the wisest among us
so long as they draw breath
are fated to repeat
the lesson over and over.
the only difference
between the enlightened & you & I
is that the masters do not read doom
in each new trial.
instead they welcome with open arms 
the certainty of loss & the uncertainty
of what is yet to come.
where we see a curse they see a blessing
& even in their weeping
they smile with all the radiance of youth.

bridges

I've always liked railroad tracks
they're like a bridge
between worlds
romantic
anachronistic
hardly in use
anymore
like rainbows that stretch
from here to the sky
but you almost never see
where they begin
& end
in this place I call home
I see trees everywhere
except four places:
ocean
powerlines
highway
&
railroad tracks
all a means
of getting somewhere
all disappear
into a sort of vertigo
these are the only places
I see the horizon.

Images and words © Jenna Pope 2018

write on

How lucky we are to be literate! Alive on paper! Free to scrawl, scribble, ink, jot, scratch, type! Writing is freedom. Literacy is liberty. To invent, to let the mind wander, to explore the last human freedom. Does your blood flow in ink? Does your heart beat in keystrokes? Does your speech only barely do justice to the sprawling wonderland behind your eyes? Write on, fellow writer. Write on.

self-discipline vs. fun

How do you balance adulting with what you love to do?

If you’re like me, your immediate association to the phrase “self-discipline” is “ugh.” And yet I’ve learned that without self-discipline, life is just plain harder than it needs to be.

Self-discipline should never involve punishing yourself or denying yourself something you love. But it does mean doing things you don’t want to do.

You do those things because you value the outcome.

Short term pain, long term gain.

And the more you’ve practiced, the less “pain” every time you do it.

This quote puts it perfectly:

“Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” -Mark Twain

With practice, you can beat resistance. Work smarter, not harder. Break tasks up into small chunks! If you hate doing dishes, set a timer for ten minutes. Or five. Whatever you can stomach.

If you’re dreading going to work, remember you only have to get through today. One day at a time. You’ll deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

Fulfilling responsibilities (“adulting”) and having fun have a special relationship: each makes the other possible. If you don’t go to work, clean your house, or care for your body, you won’t be able to do what you love. The momentum you build getting the adult things done helps get the fun things done, and vice versa.

Remember: we all have to “adult” when we don’t feel like it, and nobody does it perfectly. But the more you can break tasks up, reward yourself, and remember why you’re doing them in the first place, the easier it gets. I promise.

a handful of water

Time is like a handful of water slipping through your fingers. One moment your hand is full, and the next, it’s gone. Fleeting though it is, its touch is familiar, and curiosity gets the better of you. You watch it for awhile, eluding you. Feel it, cool, trickling over your skin. Listen to the tinkling of it dripping into the sink, the pond, the ocean. Only reluctantly do you turn away and return to the task of living.

love is a safe harbor

Love is a safe harbor
a refuge for the grieving
a shelter for the windworn
a steadfast tree in a storm.
Too often we think that love should be a whirlwind
of desires long unfulfilled
a reflecting pool
of our deepest
most secret wishes.
Love is more a steady beating
a slow but sure walk home
a light leading through fog and dark.
Do not get lost in dreams of not enough.
Listen instead for the familiar greeting
of another weary traveler returning home.