So there’s this house, tall, 2 to 3 stories high, and there’s a front yard and a back yard. In the back yard is a big fucking party but to get there, you have to go over the house. There’s a ladder. And most people learn very quickly how to climb the ladder and get over the house. But you can’t even find the ladder; it’s like the ladder doesn’t exist for you. You can hear the party in the back and it sounds so fun and you’re told that it is fun, the best fun, the fun you should be a part of if you want to be somebody. And by god, you do want to be somebody. You really really do, so you run and jump, but not high enough to get over the house. And people encourage you, they say “You can do it! You can do anything you put your mind to.” You believe them and you run and you jump and you run and you jump, you practice and you get stronger, but you can’t make it over. And you say you can’t make it over, but they tell you, “Don’t be so negative. Try harder. We made it over.” But you can’t find the ladder and you can’t jump over. Turns out you can paint the house and you can mow the front yard and you can plant beautiful flowers that all the people stop to admire before they climb the ladder to the back yard, but people don’t really care about that because the back yard is where it’s happening. You look at your flowers and your stick fort and you love them and you don’t understand why other people don’t love them, but you want to understand so you grab onto the house. One hand, one foot, one hand, one foot, and you climb. You focus and you climb and the people on the ladder scurry past you. Some laugh, some are bewildered at why the hell you’re climbing the side of the house instead of using the ladder, some climb alongside you. But you can only hold on for so long. Gravity, weight, vertical walls, physics defeats you and you fall. And you’re injured, pretty bad, but you can kinda fake that you’re okay, so they tell you to grit yer teeth and git’r done, stop whining, stop belly-aching. So you do that and think that maybe you can build your own ladder. And they tell you, “Take this pill. It helped us.” And they tell you, “Why do you sleep so late? We don’t need that much sleep. How lazy are you?” And they don’t see that you need all this sleep, because you’re so tired from climbing the house and building the ladder and it keeps falling about and they keep telling you to try harder and it’s right there, just do it. But for god’s sake, you just can’t because you’re dying trying, you’re killing yourself trying to get over the house. So for a little while, you stop and instead you tend to the trees in the front yard and you tend the people you discover are in the front yard with you because that you can do. Because even though you can’t climb the ladder to the back yard and you can’t climb the house, you sure as fucking well can walk with these people in the front yard and you can plant seeds to trees that in time you can climb. And you can fill yourself with sunshine and shine for people and this, this doesn’t kill you, this doing what you can in the front yard doesn’t break you and you can shine and glow and even when the people climbing the ladder tell you that you should climb the ladder and shine in the back yard for them, you just can’t. You’ve tried and tried to get over the fucking house, but when you try you can only get so far and then you fall and then your shine dims and the time it takes to recover your shine is years and one day you realize you don’t have that kind of time. You have to choose. Shine in the front walk or die trying to get to the back yard that people keep telling you is the place to be? You have to choose. Finally, you choose to stay in the front yard, to build rock sculptures and snow tunnels, to rest by deer and howl with coyotes. To hold close and shine for the friends and family who visit you in the front yard. To write poetry in chalk on the sidewalk and know that it is damn good poetry. When the people on the ladder tell you that you can totally share this poetry in the back yard and they would love it; you just have to get over the house. And for a second, you consider trying again, because that is so much of what you’ve strived for: to get over the house, to understand and be understood, to have your poetry heard. But now you’re old enough to know the terrible consequences of trying that particular task and you’re old enough to know the terrific rewards of working in the front yard and seeing how the flowers and vines and trees and butterflies and people grow when you shine when and where you can. And the people on the ladder will always tell you to climb the ladder to the better back yard, but now you know how to tell them no and feel no shame about that.
You shine and shine in the front yard.
The people you shine for
and are grateful
and they shine too.