Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Reflecting on Lucille Clifton's "why people be mad at me sometimes"

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Lucille Clifton

why people be mad at me sometimes

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember 
their memories
and i keep remembering mine

Staying grounded requires remembering your own voice. For many many seasons of my life, I felt as if more legitimate "others" stood whispering in my ears. Telling me their stories about why I should do things a certain way, see circumstances from a particular point of view. I knew they were just opinions borne of their experiences in the world--their values, biases, tastes, fears. 

I wasn't strong enough to drown them out and consistently trust my own truths. 

Clifton’s poem reminded me of those times in my life when I contorted myself to fit into someone else's good graces, or earn a nod, or avoid raised brows or critical responses. Times when I turned against what I preferred, what comforted me, what made me feel whole, what I knew in my soul. 

Now it helps me to envision my soul as a strong and powerful warrior buried in my belly going absolutely ballistic when ignored. A warrior who doesn't care if people get mad at me.

Sometimes it's a challenge, but if I don't listen to me, who else will?