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People

I had asked for so many days.
So many hours,
What is in me of help for others?
What is there of myself
To give to them?
Then Win stood before me,
And opening my eyes
I saw the loneliness,
The pain and envy of others
And erupted into an attempt to help.
I went to Ann,
But found I had nothing
That could be of use to her.
So searched other faces,
Wondering about them
And about myself.
So the hours passed,
No nearer any answer to my question,
And decided to go home.
I put on my coat to go,
Looking once more
At the faces of the people around me,
Still wondering.
Then looking at Grant,
A feeling grew and grew –
We are all just Life,
Struggling to be.
This essence we are
Has no other reason to go on
And there is nothing else.
In simply being, there is strength and love.
Uncertainty robs us of that strength.
With certainty life and strength flows from us.

While with Ann
I saw her face change.
It suggested all the women
Who have meant anything to me –
Particularly my wife,
And a secret love.
Ann said I looked strong and a rogue.
Then I left Ann and sat alone.
Things were rising in me
Like spring water
In the floods.

Sylvia asked me
What I thought of her.
I told her I felt she was full of love,
But it seemed to me
All stuck at a teenage level.
She was saying I was “booful”
And I was sure
What she really wanted was a pin-up.

Sylvia was the only one
Left in the room.
Her face looked large and strong.
Earlier a Dori Previn song
Had been playing,
“She forgot she had not
Paid for her own.”
Tombstone, that is.
Sylvia had asked me,
“What did she say?
She forgot she had not got a face?”
She murmured
Something else about her face,
I said,
“It’s to do with your face.
What lies behind it?
You misheard the words,
So it’s important.”
Her only response was to say
My face was shining,
That I was like St George,
Or some great figure.
I was a colossus,
Shining with love.
I felt myself slipping into accepting
Her projection,
But noticed, and remained myself,
Not a colossus of love,
Or a world helper –
Just me on my way home.

Outside, in the larger hall,
I saw Barbara and knew
She was walking about
As if she were pregnant -
Because she so longed to be.
Andy was there
Dancing slowly to the music,
And I could see
He was really a woman.
So I asked him
If he was a woman inside.
He agreed,
And it cleared away
A hard feeling I had concerning him.
I had always felt uncertainty.
Knowing the woman inside him
Left me more connected with him.

Grant called out of me
The deep flow of compassion and love,
From my ordinary humanness
To his ordinary humanness.
It arose out of the recognition
We were both fallible,
Wonderful, human creatures –
Life, struggling, falling, getting up,
And going on.
In us, in me,
Arose the feeling of that strength
That goes on,
Faces what comes,
Loves on,
Lives on,
Grows on.

I watched Chris.
He was jigging about.
He and Roland were touching
The same mystery of existence
I had seen in Grant.
We bubbled over to each other
And laughed as we made contact.
Ann looked at us.
Her face and eyes
Showed intense curiosity,
But then she turned in on herself,
Because of shame or guilt
At not being in on what we were doing.
Yet we were not excluding her.

Then Paul stared at me
And I suddenly felt myself
Being a leader figure,
A messiah who could help others,
But fought it and pulled out,
Becoming me again, on my way home.

I went to say goodbye to
Win and Pete.
I tried to explain,
But words weren’t easy to find
That would hold everything.
Looking at Pete
I tried to understand who he was.
He was moving vaguely to the music.
(It was Moody Blues.)
His eyes darted to mine,
Then away.
He knew I was watching him
But was avoiding contact
Lest I saw him as he was.
But it didn’t matter to me.
Knowing what a heap of crap I am,
Enables me to see with love;
Not expecting perfection.
The miracle of human struggle,
The journey we all share
Is wonder enough.

Win was holding her baby,
And unexpectedly it reached out to me,
So I held her in my arms.
This little female child wasn’t yet a person,
Just life, growing, becoming, emerging.
Yet life, through the baby,
Communicated with me.
It was asking me
To go on being,
Go on for its sake.
It was very moving.

Life was not asking me
To go on for any particular thing –
Only to go on living
With as full an outflow,
As certain an outflow as I am capable of.

Then I walked home,
Looking at people,
Full of certainty about flowing out.
I had nothing different
Or amazing to offer,
But I had and was me,
And that, although not different or better,
Is amazing and wonderful.
And people really looked
And said hello to me,
Much more than usual, I thought.
And walking the High Street,
I looked in the slot machine arcade.
The man running it looked dead,
But the children on the machines
Were living through great adventures,
Meeting challenges with courage
As they worked the controls.
They were really alive, young, and lovely.

As I neared home
The strongest feeling
Of the day arose.
Tears wanted to flow,
Held back because of people
On the street.
I felt myself a man,
And I was going home.
Home wasn’t just a house
That B and I had made a home.
It was such a great thing,
A wondrous thing.
I knew I loved B as deeply
As I loved anybody.
I wanted to share that with her.
When I opened the door though,
Her eyes and manner
Were full of suspicion and closed off.
But I had a lovely thing in me,
And I wanted to share it.
I played with my youngest son.
He immediately began to connect,
And he played a game
Of looking down into my body,
Peering through my mouth
And down my neck,
Saying I was full of rubbish.
I asked him if he could see
Anything good down there.
He said, “Rubbish.” Then, “Balls and
Tomatoes.”

Later we walked to my mother’s.
I felt so much positive certainty
Flowing out from me.
And from this
I held my woman,
And knew that though ordinary,
I shone with life.
And that Life in me looked out at other people.
And they looked back
And responded.
Even a woman who usually ignored me
Looked almost opened mouthed and said hello.

Our dog Merlin was with us
And three big dogs rushed out at him.
He cowered and
It looked like a fight might develop;
But I simply said to him,
“Good dog. You’re okay.”
Suddenly the whole situation changed.
He knew he had my strength behind him,
And although there were three against one,
He stood his ground,
Sniffed, and the dogs
No longer growled or sought to attack.

It was an impressive lesson.
From it I saw how terribly uncertain
Of herself B is,
And how desperately
She needs my strength behind her,
As do Merlin and the children.

When at my parents
I looked deeply at my son D who was there.
He said, “Don’t do that,” and laughed.
Then I began to play spontaneously
And said I knew where he was –
He was hiding inside,
And we both broke into
That joyful laughter of contact.
I knew I had seen D’s core.
I found him a joyful sunny child.
I recognised I had met D
In this way before.
That was why my boys
Loved to play ‘Tigers’,
During which I carry them on my back
And crawl around the house
Roaring like a beast.
It’s not the game they like,
It is the way we meet core to core.
Any game would do
If it did that.

I went into another room.
Mark showed me his new trousers.
His posture, manner, face,
All showed me how
He also needed my strength
My loving acceptance,
To help him face the problems
Of growing into a man.

It seemed to me that day,
The fundamental question
Our children, friends and relatives
Ask us is – “Am I okay?
Do you love me as I am?”

Copyright ©2006 Tony Crisp

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Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved