Struggle, Struggle . . .

'Wisdom' and Other Words To Live By From a Wet-Behind-The Ears Oracle

'Wisdom' and Other Words To Live By From a Wet-Behind-The Ears Oracle

“Struggle struggle . . .  toil and trouble . . .”   Okay, those aren’t the exact words used by the witches in Macbeth, but they seem an accurate representation of the spell I’ve been casting lately in the continuing drama that is my life. 

Striving.  Trying.  Effort.  Labor . . .   Stress.  This is what I appear to have conjured up recently and with remarkable skill, if I do say so myself.  Who knew what a powerful wizard I was—able to zap up all kinds of discontent and frustration in the form of a life that could fairly be summed up by the credo of “all work and no play”.

“Life is hard,” we hear.  “Relationships are hard.”  “Times are hard.”  Hearing must be believing, because the more I hear it, the easier it seems to believe it, and the more I believe it, the more I proceed to live it. 

I haven’t had this much trouble dragging my behind out of bed in the morning in a very long time, and I keep wondering . . .  where did the joy go?  When and how and why did it get so hard?  And is that really the way it’s supposed to be?  Really??

I remember a line from the 1980-something film “Biloxi Blues” where Matthew Broderick’s character, just off the train at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi, kept talking about how hot it was there .  “It’s like, Africa hot,” he said . . .  “I don’t think I can stay here if it’s gonna be this hot.”

These days, I notice myself saying, “I don’t think I can stay here if it’s gonna be this hard.” 

Before my friends and family start ringing me up to assess for suicidal ideation, I should clarify that what I mean is, I don’t think I want to keep choosing a life that feels this hard.  I don’t want to keep busting my hump, expecting it to carry me to some pot of elusive gold.  I don’t want a relationship that’s hard.  I don’t want to see the world, or me in the world, that way.  Struggle is overrated.  Why do important gains have to be hard won?  I want it easy.  I want it fun.  I want it to feel good.

“Good luck with that,” plenty of folks will say after getting off the phone with their financial advisor or putting down the newspaper or scanning the job ads.  I don’t care.  Striving sucks.  Tried it–hated it.   If that’s really what ‘success’ means, maybe it’s time to explore the alternatives.  It might be a lonely journey. Enrollment at the school of hard knocks seems to be on the rise.  Drop-outs are frowned upon, but I don’t care.  I’m not interested in keeping misery company anymore.  Misery’s a bitch.

I’m not entirely sure yet how to reverse the spell . . .  In the words of a fellow magician and dear friend, I’m feeling a little more like Aunt Clara than Samantha these days . . .  but I’m pretty sure if I hold the intention to live a life that feels good without breaking my back to get it, it will all come back to me.  How hard can it be?

To that end, I’m re-posting a poem originally offered not all that long ago.  I needed to hear it again and so I’m indulging myself.  Some might say that’s lazy, that I should make the effort to write a new and better poem.  Here’s to taking it easy . . . .


The River Flows

I know how it goes.
I’ve been here before—
I just forget,
the way that we forget
how fine a bath feels
when our habit is a shower,
how a child’s face
dawns in a dim space
when a gift blooms as a smile.
It’s just forgetting for a while
the wide arms of the oceans
rocking all of us to sleep,
the Father’s sweep of clear blue eye,
the Mother’s willing, milky breast.
I forget the West Wind’s easy kiss
and that the sun heals
more than it could ever burn.
I forget how this world turns,
spinning as we planned.
I forget that we’re all free
to think we win or lose,
that choosing is my power,
my design and reason
for this visitation, in this season,
that I’ve only to believe
that nothing’s ever really wrong,
no sin or crime has held me back,
no taste or touch I should regret.
Over any aging rock
the ageless river flows.
It takes me sweetly, swiftly home
even when my eyes are closed,
even when my fists are clenched,
even when I just forget.


About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on September 20, 2009, in Self Development. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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