On Turning Inward.
By Caits Meissner
It is not your job to wonder what other people think of you. It is not your job to apologize constantly.
It is not your job to worry about not being good enough or not being liked or not being pretty or not being funny. Who are these invisible audiences? What do they look and sound and smell like, hmmm? I bet there is a rotten armpit in that crowd somewhere.
Then you have a one up — your armpits smell like dew on fresh grass.
Oh no, no, no worries, my sweetest thing. It is only your job to wake up with a full heart and pull open the curtains. It is your job to brush your teeth and smile at yourself in the mirror. It is your job to find the things that make you sing and belt at the top of your lungs.
It is your job to care about something, anything, and dive into like a flamingo dipping into the ocean for a slick fish. No chasing those who do not want to be in your presence. No energy on others who want to quietly steal your flame and keep it in their bedside table.
No strain of the neck to look back at those who’ve fallen away.
Here is a little bit of sun to carry in your pocket. Here is a thought to make you squirt water out your mouth when you laugh, remembering. Here the ways I care for you, with kisses in the palm of your hand, on your temples, a hug where I linger on the small of your back.
Here is a love letter that I mean every word of. Your favorite cupcake with teeth-buzz icing. Here is a new jewel to adorn like royalty. A dollar to drop into the hat of a subway musician. Here is a song, sweet and simple on a ukulele, one you know all the words to. Here, sing along.
Here is a film that brought you joy as a child, and the most comfortable pillow and the biggest bowl of buttery popcorn. Here is a cat, or a puppy, or a baby to sleep against you with its gentle rhythm of breathing. Here is a ticket out of town.
A carnival, or a burlesque dance, or a stadium concert, or a slow walk by the sea. Here is a horse to ride. Here is wind for your hair. Here is the thickest tree in the forest to climb. Walk slower. See how the day has turned up for you? The man on the corner performs a magic trick. The woman winks.
Children dance. The seat on the subway has been left warm, and there is enough room to sit with your back against the plastic, enough room to dream. Here is a dream. Remember it? We talked last night. It sure remembers you.
Some people don’t like mango and that stuns me. Your sugar isn’t for every taste bud, but you just go on shining.
Imagine if the sun just didn’t come out on the days we complained of the heat? The whole world would die.
Caits Meissner is an award-winning poet, educator and vibrant creative force dedicated to transformation and healing through storytelling. For over 10 years, Caits has extensively facilitated youth and adults in poetry and multimedia expression and healing, and has worked long-term instituting innovative arts education programming at cultural institutions such as Tribeca Film Institute, Urban Arts Partnership, The Facing History School and the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Caits’ poetry of witness has been awarded first place prizes from the Pan-African Literary Forum and the Ja’Nai Foundation, and she serves as Co-Founder of The Wide Shore global women’s poetry magazine. Currently, Caits facilitates Digging Deep, Facing Self — a 30-day online intensive writing course designed to uplift, heal and transform women into their boldest selves. To learn more, visit caitsmeissner.com. Also, join Caits and yogini Maiga Milbourne this August 21st-24th for ‘Mythic Beings: a nourishing creative writing and Yoga retreat for women’ in the Vermont woods. To learn more and sign up before the June 18th deadline, visit MythicBeingRetreats.