Ten Years After

Ten years ago I thought I couldn’t write poetry – and then I started to fiddle a bit with rhymes, discovered Word! and Pinggk – and now I can.

Ten months ago I thought I couldn’t sing.  My voice was variable and often croaky.  But I started to practise.  Recently I’ve done a few songs at Yesim’s and they went down well.  So now I think maybe I can.

When I was four I was on the beach in Sussex when I learned that across the water lay another country, called France.  I decided to walk to France and I set my face to the waves.  Time after time I waded in, only to be hauled out by my father.

Never tell yourself ‘I can’t.’  My childhood – and perhaps more damagingly, my adolescence and later life – was filled with people raining on my parade, stealing my thunder and generally trying to teach me – for my own good, of course – that ‘I couldn’t’.   So that it becomes a narrative in your life; one that’s very hard to turn around.

Now, I am forced reluctantly to acknowledge that walking to France is kind of a tall order, especially for a four-year-old; but had I persisted I would have found out for myself what the difficulties were.  I would have learned wisdom.  Of course, it’s quite possible that my father had no idea what I was doing – he probably just saw me in danger and rescued me.  It’s quite possible that I didn’t explain I was walking to France.  But if I had I have no doubt I would have heard once more those dreaded words.

You can’t.

Or, to put it another way, ‘if the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.’*  Because if you persist you will either get somewhere, in which case the nay-sayers will learn a thing or two – or you will fail, in which case you will learn a thing or two.  In the end there is no such thing as failure (and I don’t mean this in a horrid American way, chanting the mantra of success) – there is only learning.  Or to put it another way, ‘doubt does more damage than failure ever can.’

I can write the book on doubt.  I’ve sown enough seeds of doubt for a whole harvest.  But no more.  Because, ten years after, I can write poetry.

And maybe, just maybe, I can sing too.

Kirk out

*William Blake, Proverbs of Hell


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