Struck by words, coming towards me from every direction. That's what I encountered at the Ubud Writer's and Readers festival this year in Bali Indonesia. I took a chance and emailed to volunteered a few months ago, hoping to be chosen to participate and I received much more.
I arrived in Ubud on October 24th, 2017 and attended orientation with over 100 other volunteers. The energy everyone was exuding was bright, inspiring, energetic, everything good and happy. I had no idea what I was about to receive.
On our official first day, Wednesday October 25th, 2017, my first assignment would be to setup all audio/visual equipment for the 'Poetry with a Purpose' workshop. I was encouraged to participate and soon was reciting a poem I had written, this workshop was a preparation class for the upcoming poetry slam that evening.
I wasn't scared but I was nervous. At least I knew I wouldn't back down if I had the opportunity to perform. So after a full day at the festival I met a friend, had a chat and waited for the poetry slam to start. Three minutes is all I have to recite my poem when I was called, half way through my hands were shaking uncontrollably and I had repeated the same line twice. My nerves were trying to get the best of me.
But then something happened, people started snapping their fingers because they liked something I said. The snapping instantly calmed me, it quieted my thoughts. I was now able to finish and feel my words, once I stepped back away from the mic, people cheered. It was incredible, not because of the attention but because they understood my feelings and my words. As I sat in my seat, I placed my head in my hands and cried for just for a moment. I just shared one of my most vulnerable moments with strangers from around the world and I realized, I am one lucky and grateful human being.
I'm not a stranger to sharing my feelings and being vulnerable but I now have so many platforms to do it. Yes, I have my AA meetings where I share my story, day, week and hour with people I know and some I've never met, thats the program, I need that. I also have my blog that I've consistently been doing for over a year now. But now I have poetry and an interest in short stories, and it's all possible.
I want to write inspirational, therapeutic poetry and visual poetry that helps people to heal. I know my journey is meant for something bigger than myself.
Two days pass and I am having an incredible time but my body, mind, heart and soul are all getting a pretty good workout this week and I'm exhausted. It's now Saturday and there is another poetry slam happening tonight. I decided to write a completely new piece the day before, I dedicated it to Heather, a friend that lost her battle with depression a few years back. It would have been her birthday on Saturday, my poem was also about my past suicide attempt at my old loft which on Saturday was the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy which caused the ceiling to collapse.
It's now that moment when my name is drawn out of the hat and people that heard my last performance are cheering. I begin to read my already timed three minute poem, there's no snapping from the audience and my mind after says "you should have read your original poem.".
Why did I choose such a deep poem, why couldn't I write a happy cheerful poem especially since I was happy and cheerful. Why didn't I just clean up the last poem I recited and do it without shaking, or maybe try and memorize it.
Why? Why? Why?
It wasn't long before the last poet went up, then the winners were called and we began to leave. As I was walking out, It looked this young boy around 18yrs old and his girlfriend had come downstairs to wait for me. I was about to pass them when he stopped me, held my arm and said "I just wanted to let you know I thought your poem was amazing and exactly what I needed to hear. Someone needs to talk about that."
It wasn't just what he said but how he said it that confirmed this higher calling. He was a young man innocent but he was obviously in some sort of pain at some point of his life that allowed him to relate to my poem. Thats how I help, I use my strength to share my story no matter what it is.
Yes the snapping of the fingers during a poem is a feel good moment, but the acknowledgement of a young man relating to my suicide survival poem is powerful and possibly gave him or someone else hope.
If I am comfortable sharing all aspects of my life good, bad and uncomfortable, then thats what I'm supposed to. Because for most its unspoken, or frowned upon. Sometimes we feel boxed in and alone, I know I did until I heard someone share a story similar to mine that gave me hope.
So today I wrote poem to describe the journey of what I receive and am given, the simplicity of my day to day encounters. My transformation from taking to giving. A balance of being inspired by others and inspiring others, constantly learning and growing. It's not about you is just my reminder that I need to continue to be of service to others. And maybe it's just a bunch of words that make no sense to most people, but it may make the difference to one.
"voice words speak spoken words | dropped filled woke fed poured caught | healed fought freed sought | me you them us knew | new | few will do | voice words mine yours | path walked simple chores | led fed awakened again | share bare vulnerable stare | saved save higher crave | she he inspired free | it’s not about you | It’s something much bigger."
"Arrogance and fear keep you from learning the smallest and most significant lesson of them all, that it's not about you." -Doctor Strange
MUCHO LOVE, JAMIE