This Is What It’s Like

Daniel Vanderkin Poetry, Reflection Leave a Comment

Each year,

this day comes
a little different than the last.

New feelings, emotions, thoughts and conundrums.
Pondering life, love, loss, and all that comes with it inspired some writing in me this day.

My hope is that in some small way this little poem can provide solace to those who are struggling.

Those who are experiencing loss, sadness, grief, or depression.
Those who haven’t been reminded today that someone is in their corner.
Those who simply need a moment to feel they aren’t alone and they are loved.

You are loved.


This Is What It’s Like
(for Sam)

“So…
This is normal.
This is what it’s like.

Years slowly sneak down the drain into memory,
Like leaking drops from the faucet of experience,
Into the sink of life they fall.

But they are never gone.
Never lost, or forgotten..

Just like the dropped ring you swear you’d never see again,
They are waiting in the trap of your mind.
That special place collecting the residue of life.
The good, the bad.
The ugly, the sad.

The, “I can’t believe I wore that…”
and “It was better when I went there…”

And, just like snaking your fallen ring from the bathroom drain,
When you dredge through the trap of your experiences,
Be prepared.
It’s gonna be a dirty job.
Your beautiful ring will emerge wet, and cold.
Covered in hair, dirt, and that weird black stuff from… who knows where.

The good has mixed with the bad,
The ugly with the sad,
And suddenly,
You “wore it better” when you “went there”,
But never knew what you had.

You went into the trap searching for lost joy,
Holding up feigned understanding like a toddler with a broken toy,
Never realizing how much you must clean, polish, and restore,
To truly enjoy.

Sifting out the beauty of the past you must get dirty.
Roll up your sleeves.
Get sweat on your brow.
Brave the raging torrent that knocked you to your knees, because you have to get up somehow.
And no matter how prepared you are, it will still rattle your core.

Allow your eyes to well and your heart to ache, just once more.
Because you know.

You know that each time it gets a little easier.
You become the master plumber, unclogging the pipes of your mind,
Picking up the tools and skills necessary,
To protect all the beauty you find.

It will no longer mix with the filth in the trap.
The pain, tribulations, and sadness.
But rather,
It will nestle lovingly next to the rest of your joy.
Your happiness.
Your triumphs.

You may gaze upon their brilliance,
Revel in their guidance,
And experience the memories of their radiance.

But this does NOT mean you will never again drop your ring.
This does NOT mean you will never again trudge through the thick waters of this life.

This DOES mean you will know what to expect.
You have learned.
You have grown.
The school of life has educated you on the importance of not losing your ring.
On the importance of knowing and understanding.
That way, when it is lost, you have the strength.
The strength to know where it ends up.
The strength to understand how to get it out.
And the strength to affirm,
With stalwart certainty,
That you can,
And will,
See your ring again.

So…
Whether you’re holding your ring now,
Cleaning away the dirt,
Or are just about to snake the drain to find it…
Remember your strength.

Remember to stand up.
Smile.
Embrace the lessons, and learn relentlessly.
There is no right answer.
This is you, attending the school of life.
Sometimes you’ll pass, sometimes you’ll fail,
But you must always move forward.
Place one foot in front of the other.
Crawl if you must, but do not stop.
Rise.
Emerge like a burning Phoenix who just made it through hell.

Because you did.
You made it through hell.

And as we all know,
Hell will come again,
And you will stand against those towering odds,
The colossus that is this life,
And make them tremble.

This game is not new,
The rules haven’t changed.
This is the game of life.
This is normal.
This is what it’s like.

But you,
You’re a pretty kick-ass player,
And as the minivan moves around the board,
It’s an honor to share the ride with you.”
~ Daniel Vanderkin