Self-Compassion Poem

by James A. Pearson

Remember that a lake
can freeze
and unfreeze
a thousand times

and feel no shame.

A coach I worked with a couple years ago often reminded me that life is a cycle of forgetting and remembering.

Over and over.

One day you feel close and connected with yourself, with the world. The next day it’s like that connection is severed.

I notice this in my body, too.

Some days it feels aligned and available for the life I’ve chosen.

And some days I wake up frozen. My system has no appetite for my plans, my goals, my intentions. It has other needs. It’s own mysterious longings to tend.

For years I fought a silent war with it. I blamed, shamed, and coerced it.

But of course a war against my body just turns out to be a war against myself. Every arrow I aim at my body pierces me.

Richard Rohr says that life’s greatest problems can’t be solved, only outgrown.

Which doesn’t mean they disappear. But that your relationship with them matures until they’re no longer such a problem.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed a softening in this “problem.”

Slowly I’ve come to accept my “off days,” as I often think of them. I remind myself that if I want my most focused, energized days, I have to accept my most sluggish, uninterested ones.

If I want the joy of remembering, I have to accept the pain of forgetting.

A while back I was apologizing to my wife, Elizabeth, for some little thing about myself that I knew was annoying for her. Maybe the smell of the sardines I often eat. Something small like that.

“It’s the price of admission,” she said.

In other words, it’s a package deal. You can’t have the good without the annoying. But it’s worth it.

It’s something we say to each other often now. And something I’m learning to say to myself. Even—and especially—on off days.