Looking Back

You look back at the goals you set but never worked to achieve,
the person you wished you were but never tried to be, and
the life you wanted to live but never dared to try.

When you glance back at those failures, you shrink from
yourself in shame; is there a way back from those labyrinthine
detours you made in lieu of believing in yourself?

You ponder all those easy choices that now look hard and
cold in the harsh light of blinding hindsight, hoping beyond
the boundaries of belief there’s a way to unmake them.

Echoes of “it’s never too late” ring in your ears, insipid
bromides that promise to retract bad judgment as a misstep
off a path, rather than an existential leap off a ledge.

That’s a pessimist’s perspective, that reliance on distrust
when doubt was the culprit, that demon who put you on the path to
abandoning your dreams and settling for an unsatisfactory surrogate.

Listen, again, to the adages; pay heed to the apophthegm that
offers the opportunity for salvation; the alternative is
to drown in deserved shame, wondering what might have been.

Seeds, buried in the remnants of a forest scorched by fire
and entombed under a mountain of ash and mud, sprout. The death
of a single seedling doesn’t deter new growth forests.

Pain is the price we pay for the lives we live, yet when we
try to cut the cost we discover we sever more than gristle.
Surgeons and butchers work with different tools.

Put away the scalpel and set aside the cleaver and knife.
Take up sutures, put out fires, nurture seedlings. The only
shame is unrepentant regret and missed second chances.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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