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Angst Through the Years

Yesterday was the fourth (and for me, final) installment of our fledgling writers' group. Our theme this time around was teen angst. Instead of writing something fresh, I took the lazy (and yet courageous) path of reading poetry I wrote at the tender age of 15. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing at my young self. The most overly dramatic of the poems, I had someone else read. I couldn't get through my heavy metaphors and expansive generalizations of things I (still) know nothing about.

We all agreed that although we are all far from being teenagers (I am the youngest of the group, at the ripe old age of a quarter century), the roots of our teen angst still exist. They just manifest in more subtle ways.

Anyway. This week's inspirational selection was from Six Degrees of Separation, a play by John Guare. The line from the Catcher in the Rye based soliloquy that stood out to me was:

"To face ourselves, that's the hardest thing. The imagination, that's God's gift to make the act of self-examination bearable."

And I wrote.

External blame for internal angst
Internal blame for external angst.

The problem with self examination
is that it spirals endlessly.
Like a perpetual motion machine.
First one way
Then the other.
Angst and blame.
Blame and angst.
Muddling the two
Spinning so rapidly
That the blue and the red
Are made invisible
And what remains is dark.

A reverse paralysis,
The inability to stop,
To shut off,
And see clearly
Where lines can be drawn
and boxes outlined
and a checkmark placed neatly
beside the line that reads
"Self-examination complete."

I have to say, as I'm thinking about it, that this little group has been an unexpected and easy blessing in my life. Friendships have formed faster than I expected, and encouragement has come in unlikely ways. Something similar will be a part of my life in Toronto, I hope.


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