I’m not a poet, at least not in a real and trained way. I write poems but that doesn’t mean they are acceptable by real poets, that’s for sure. They are only acceptable to me (sometimes) and I rarely share them! But I’m having a thought that maybe I need to be brave. So here we go!
Below are two poems. Let me explain. I have some issues with living in Los Angeles. I am a country girl at heart and find that everything in me feels right and at home when I am out of the city. Let me define city…you can see your neighbors walk out of their house and hear the cars on the freeway from your front porch. There is more cement than grass. And you measure driving distance by time, not miles. So, yes, the “Valley” where I live is the city…though I am very thankful that I can also see mountains from my kitchen window and smell the grass I mowed and there are more trees and birds than tall buildings! And isn’t that exactly the point?
My confession is a struggle with discontent. Instead of being filled up and happy with occasional trips to mid-west small towns or Oregon beaches, I can come home really sad to be coming home to Los Angeles. The first poem is one I wrote on a plane coming in to land at LAX some months ago. It is a bleak poem, and that is exactly how everything looked and felt to me as I looked out the window at the city below. It was me trying to write a poem to get the yuck inside down on paper and living outside of me. It helped, kind of…but not really because it took quite awhile for me to get my mind and heart right after that particular trip.
Recently I was once again flying home after being somewhere that felt more like home than my home. I was writing in my journal and re-read my sad poem and decided that I needed a better strategy! In fact, I decided to write an alternative poem that better represented the really beautiful parts of living here. Even as I type this I recognize the privilege of my life. I fly places. I have resources and time to be in both the mountains around Los Angeles and the beach…and I can be at either place in about an hour. I apologize and repent…and yet the feelings (and the wrestling) are real.
Do you ever not like where you are and/or your life as it currently is structured? I think probably all of us could slip into that funk of discontent…or maybe it is just me, and a few others. Some of us thrive in positivity all the time! God bless you all! I really do want to be more like you…it just takes a bit more work inside of me to get there. If you are anything like me…maybe it would help to write some perspective poems. Gratitude is a discipline…at least for me. When I look for beauty and things that fill my soul, I find them. Maybe there is a beautiful flower I see growing as I walk to the bus, or an unexpected hug, or a kind word, or a smile, or birds singing, or a text from a friend. The Lord is generous and patient. And I’m very glad for the gifts He gives us in this journey of life…even life here in Los Angeles!
So...here are two poems, different perspectives on this LA place....
Flight descends slowly seeing city unfold
Cement for miles
It’s the grayest of places sprawling
Freeways and streets and buildings and dry water ways
Millions of people packed in a valley of asphalt
Box house lots and cars and cars and cars
Lonely trees here and there scattered dots
Blue water kidney shaped pools stand in contrast
Grass seems dead brown mostly
Giving way to parking lots and stores and schools
Ribbons of road stuck cars inch along for miles and miles
Why live here? Restless thoughts
Fighting sadness sinking in and longing
For green grass fields and woods and rivers
Space to breathe and move and fill eyes and soul
With life giving beauty
This city…soul numbing spreads beneath unwelcoming home
God please help breathe purpose into the why of here.
Miles of blue ocean white capped reaching
For long strips of welcoming sand and cliffs where
Sunflowers and daisy shrubs absorb morning fog
Waves swell and ride and break
Rhythms of ocean beauty
Distant mountains rise miles away reaching up
To clouds racing across blue skies
Filled with pine, oak splendor
Rocks and trails and dry beds waiting patiently
For snow melt spring waters to flow
People inhabit valleys between these packed tight
And searching for purpose and life and why amidst
Beauty and wealth and mansions and thousands homeless
Complex systems of survival weave through
Streets and homes with some lonely and broke or
Too much to do stress looking for…something more
So little quietness of soul
Finding life here deep and real and Jesus
Needed by all…how to hear You, feel You even so and
Share real love? Lord, help us.