come, poor Jackself

Jan 14, 2022 poetry appreciation

My therapy practice would be a lot less busy if people really knew how right it is to be self-compassionate. So many of us can pay lip service to the notion of “put on your own oxygen mask first” while not truly believing it’s “allowed” or, actually, the long-term more altruistic thing to do (in that it helps you keep in a fit state to support others). So I love this poem—a recent discovery—which expresses that sense of unease about kindness to self. Here’s James Crews’ ‘Self-Compassion‘.

I think the second half of the text captures really well the way our thoughts and worries can spiral out of control; sometimes if we pull on a thread the whole damn jumper unravels. But the poem brings itself back to the centre, via a line which stands out from the everyday-ness of most of the language: ‘How long/ do any of us really have before the body/begins to break down and empty its mysteries/ into the air?’ What a beautiful turn of phrase.

And can’t we all do with a bit of ‘comforting/ in spite of the facts’ at the moment? Or—as Hopkins has it in ‘My own heart let me have more pity on’ (this post’s title comes from there)—can we try to ‘leave comfort root-room’. Getting off our own case is always a good place to start.

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