The Space Between Words and Life

 What can you possibly write,
 After all these years
 Of forgetting your own words,
 That matters?

 All the abandoned thoughts
 Forgotten ideas
 Lost potential,
 Exiled within
 Graveyards of paper
 And writing
 That died too soon.

 You have taken the easy path
 As if just writing was enough,
 Never questioning
 Your own stifling assumptions
 And unexamined beliefs
 And those incessant stories,
 Incongruent with your reality.

 But there is another way,
 Found in the space between 
 Your words 
 And your experience,
 Where creativity becomes possible again
 On the mercurial frontier between
 The hauntings and intimations
 Of your inner life,
 And the emerging situations and circumstances
 That claim you
 In the outer world.

 Only you can know this space.
 You cannot invite anyone in.
 No one else can force their way in.
 It is yours
 And yours alone,
 Utterly unique
 And utterly remarkable
 Because it is where
 You are.

 Can you turn directly into
 The full force of your own life,
 Escape the dreariness of information
 And the distractions of other people’s knowledge,
 To undertake the real struggle
 Of following your own creative spirit
 To discover meaning
 In the life that surrounds you?

 There are questions
 You cannot answer,
 But that doesn’t matter.
 Let your limitations guide you.
 Some questions can only be lived
 And the mysteries they faithfully protect
 Even loved.

 You must share your art with others.
 Do not expect anything.
 Your work will not resonate with most
 And it doesn’t need to.
 Creative work is an offering
 Not a promise.
 Once you release it,
 Your art lives a life of its own.
 When your creative work goes out into the world
 It will eventually return to you,
 In ways you could not have imagined.

 So, in those first uncertain moments of waking
 When the night still speaks to you,
 Ask yourself,
 What can I write that matters?
 And then rise
 And fully inhabit
 The space between
 Your words
 And your life.


  1. I wrote this poem to facilitate my creative work with transformative journal writing. Poetry is a deep creative practice that takes you to the outside edges of your ability and knowledge where you must find a way, on your own, to move forward.
  2. Jane Hirshfield has written insightfully about the art of poetry: “Every good poem begins in language awake to its own connections — language that hears itself and what is around it, sees itself and what is around it, looks back at those who look into its gaze and knows more perhaps even than we do about who are, what we are. It begins, that is, in the mind and body of concentration.” (The Effortless Effort of Creativity: Jane Hirshfield on Storytelling, the Art of Concentration, and Difficulty as a Consecrating Force of Creative Attention)
  3. Two insightful quotes by Thomas S. Kane (The New Oxford Guide to Writing):
    • “If a journal is really to help you develop as a writer, you’ve got to do more than compose trite commonplaces or mechanically list what happens each day. You have to look honestly and freshly at the world around you and at the self within.”
    • ““Words are not simply an expression of the self; they help to create the self. In struggling to say what we are, we become what we say.”