Gail Sheehy found poem

In addition to writing poetry this summer, I have been doing independent ethics research.  This research has confirmed some things for me: 1. I do not want to do research for a living; 2. Ethical frameworks that are provided by religious beliefs, family values, and the communities in which we find ourselves can be at times constricting but without them, we have nothing to live by; and 3. Poetry is a much more interesting way of communicating philosophical ideas than most scholarly texts.

Case in point: a passage from Gail Sheehy’s 1970’s book, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life.  I’m not reading this particular book, but in the piece I’m currently reading, Charles Taylor’s The Ethics of Authenticity, a section of Sheehy’s work is quoted.  The following is a found poem (or a poetically-configured quote of a quote in a book that is a quote of a radio broadcast, if you will):

You can’t take everything with you
when you leave on the midlife journey.
You are moving away.
Away from institutional claims
and other people’s agenda.
Away from external valuations,
away from accreditations.
You are moving out of roles.
You are moving into the self.
I give everyone a gift for the send-off.
It is a tent.
A tent for tentativeness.
The gift of portable roots,
there, the opportunity to emerge
reborn, authentic, unique,
loving ourselves, embracing others;
the delights of self-discovery are always available.
The capacity to love remains.


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