Gifts of Hindsight


As I age, I grow wisdom

I find more space in my head

Of awareness in my choices,

Actions and thoughts

I’ve done nothing special

To earn the wisdom I hold

Except to live in extremes of

Pain and joy and act as witness.

I have always been told I need

Thicker skin, to lighten up,

To smile more, to chill out

That I feel too much.

I am a granola head,

I think too much

That I need to relax

Not care so much.

Each criticism I embodied and

Brought close to my heart

I demanded myself to comply but

my demands faded into nonconformance.

Over and over I would struggle to comply

To be accepted, to be approved.

One little comment set my teeth on edge

And I found myself in my corner again.

As I age it doesn’t matter

How much I conform because I take time to

see who I am and now agree I am

who I am supposed to be.

I don’t know if I would have looked so deeply

Inside to figure out why I do what I do

And believe what I believe if it wasn’t

For the criticizers who demanded I be different.

My parents gave me the biggest gift

To be warm and compassionate and

Respectful and patient

because they were not.

My school friends gave me loyalty

When they talked behind my backs

And said disparaging remarks

About what I wasn’t doing.

Bosses gave me honest and clear

Communication when they finagled

My words and accused me of

Agreements I did not make.

Lovers gave me intimacy

When my trust and vulnerability

was tromped on and

I was exposed and hurt

All these teachers in my life

Gifted me with insights,

Opened my heart, taught me

Compassion and self-respect

The perfection of life happens as

We struggle to be included.

We struggle to be wanted.

We struggle to be loved.

All the while the pain and loss

Are really the teachers that help

Us become who we want to be.

We find our home within.

Autobiography In Five Chapters - – Portia Nelson

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost… I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I always feel what you say is so inspiring and thoughtful. There are resemblances to my father. In raising my children, I bent over backwards not to discipline them in that painful way. My father would ask me to help him and never explain how and then get mad at me for getting it wrong. So I never asked my children to help me. I should have heeded my grandmother’s advice to always keep your balance. I loved that poem. It was funny and so insightful.

  • Thank you for the poem. I’ve heard it many times over the years but this time it resonated with me on a deeper level. So I guess I’ve learned something.

  • Thank you for the poem. Usually the synchronicity is amazing, but this time it was literal. I live on a dirt road with a lot of potholes and they’ve just redone the ends. I had a decision to make because I’ve been going down the same road and it’s scary to get out in winter. I’ve even looked into selling my house. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I needed to buy another car, all-wheel drive, up higher, it’s the perfect car. I had to let go of so many things. It was painful. I was so sad yesterday before getting my new car, letting go of my old car, which I love. But it was also accepting the abundance of a new car, that I was worthy of spending all this money which rationally I thought was not okay, but I want to live. So I need this without the stress. The meditation was about the going down a different road and the amount of letting go and the acceptance. The “I am enough, I am worthy” idea is a big part of this new car.

  • I as well have heard that poem a zillion times. During the meditation, I realized I had another chapter in there for a long time which was looking down the hole. Looking and maybe trying to fill it up. The going down the different road is not necessarily easy because it is so unfamiliar. But this group and other things and the pandemic and everything has given me the space to go down a different road and not look down the hole and try to fill it up.

  • We come across people in our lives that still hold on to the old stuff and not realize that they have changed and can move forward. They drag the baggage of all the hurt. I did it for years and years myself.

  • I was looking at an old journal and was reminded of the three Ps: nothing is permanent, nothing is personal, and nothing is perfect. That’s helpful for me to keep in mind. And three P’s is easy to remember.

  • I’ve not heard that poem before. It was wonderful. The reading spoke to me. It’s interesting to think about the various traumas of my past and how they can be teachers for me. I don’t think I ever thought of it that way. I’ve felt sorry for myself that they happened to me. But I often talk about how our life experiences lead us to think and act and believe in different ways. For example, if I think someone doesn’t understand an issue, like an equality issue, I have to remember we all had a different upbringing and life experience that drives how we act and feel. But it can also work on the other end—negativity in our upbringing and our surroundings can teach us. And I think about what I’ve learned from these traumas. It’s not like you wish the trauma on yourself, but you can learn something from it.

  • I do understand about learning from things that have happened. But my son is getting weaker and weaker. I was praying and crying. I don’t know how to help.

  • Just your presence with him is a huge addition to his life. No matter what happens. And every one of us feels in our hearts what it feels like to love someone, and when they are suffering, it hurts us. So it is important that we feel grounded and to hold the intention in our hearts the love we feel for them. I wish we could say that that controls what happens to our loved one, but I know it doesn’t. I believe the universe has the highest and best intention for everyone. And as painful as it is, I say in hindsight after my own lost, your son is surrounded by support that will guide him to his highest and best good for his soul.


#meditationpractice #mindfulnesspractice #mindfulnessmeditation #mindfullife #mindfulmovement #spiritualguidance #spiritualawareness #spiritualpath #lettinggoishard #selfcompassion #wisdom

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