Monday, August 30, 2021

Flying Lessons

Most of us who have been using personal computers for awhile have a favorite software that acts like a junk drawer. Mine is Evernote and it passed the junk drawer stage years ago ... after twelve years, it is now a full on attic.  Evernote is an organizer's dream but can quickly become a tangled mess when discipline is slack. 

Charitably, I would describe my organization as mid-level, although it has been drifting toward tangled mess for awhile. With a little prodding from a highly organized friend, I've committed to tidying up. 

It may take awhile because, like any good attic, there are treasures hidden amongst the dust bunnies. One that appeared tonight was a bit of poetry that arrived a few years ago as I was reading about Unfettered Mind, the title of Kitty Ferguson’s biography of Stephen Hawking, which is a metaphorical paean to a life of freedom.

 While his body was locked in an immovable prison, his mind soared into the far reaches of space and time, unbound … unfettered … by the requirements of ordinary life (in large part thanks to his wife Jane’s constant care.) In spite of his decades of paralysis and continuing loss of physical abilities, Hawking said, “In my mind, I am free!”

I became fascinated by the fettered part of unfettered and wrote the following:

FETTERS are those things that bite and scratch,
Claw our spirits, drain our energies,
Withhold the light that shows us the way,
And, distract us from our path home.

FETTERS are the darts of judgment,
Telling us we’re not good enough,
No one will love us, we’re too old,
Slow, dumb, fat, ugly, clumsy,

Darts thrown by the world.
Darts thrown by ourselves.

FETTERS are our neon limitations,
Blank spaces where there should be
Shapely arms or legs, IQ points, money, time,
Energy, mentors, a degree or certificate,
All the things we lack in order to be enough ...
Potholes, sinkholes, wounds, all the missing pieces,
All the many reasons we can’t do what calls us.

FETTERS are the gathered weight of the world:
Too much and too many ...
Stuff, expectations, pressures to fit in,
Be a success; be right; be normal;
Heaviness driving us into the ground while
The weighty expectation of future continuity
Sucks adventure from our bones.

FETTERS are the dark shadows of fear.
Creeping into the corners of our spirits …
Tendrils of failure, abandonment, pain, loss,
Sickness, poverty, entrapment, death,
Calling us to hide, lash out, freeze … or run!

FETTERS nurture the fear that clutches our heart,
And calls us to forsake the clear energy of flowers,
The kiss of morning mist shifting through trees,
The dance of children,
The frosted nuzzle of an old dog,
Or a slow afternoon of friends and family
Gathered around burgers and lemonade,

Joy traded for the weight of pieces of numbered paper.
For the protective shield of our limitations,
For our own acceptance of the world’s judgments,
For the comforting warmth of our hand-sewn quilts of safety.

Thank them, those many fetters, for their lessons,
And then let them go,
One by one,


-- Joyce Wycoff


  1. What an attic treasure! Thanks for sharing your "finds."

  2. So many of us have fetters that try us or tie us. As I age, I am trying hard to undo those that still keep me in their clutches. I have copied your lovely poem and will read it when I'm feeling the need to fly!