Insurmountable obstacles during hard times will be seen in retrospect as stepping stones.

Small comfort, right?

I think I hear: “Bore me with another platitude if that’s the best you can do.” That is the best I can do.

However, there’s a poem by Emily Dickinson that’s like a shot of tequila (or two) for a soul mired in self-doubt. I remember reading this poem for the first time many years ago when I was too young to know I would survive the worst disappointments, endure outrageous loss and even forgive myself for stupid mistakes that would have profound consequences. I remember feeling panic stricken when plans I undertook quickly turned to cement in my shoes because I felt I lacked the skill, desire, support, whatever, to see them through.  

I stepped from Plank to Plank

A slow and cautious way

The Stars about my head I felt

About my Feet the Sea —


I knew not but the next

Would be my final inch —

This gave me that precarious Gait

Some call Experience

There is a quality of Being With the reader of this poem During a feeling that life has closed its doors that I think gives this poem its power.

When all I can do is stare into an oncoming headlight and wait for disaster to hit me, the poem counsels: if you can inch forward despite the conviction of certain demise, you will learn the only authentic response and it will see you through. 

The poem could be seen as a description of uncertainty turning to certainty. Drawing attention to the need for me to be willing, though insecure, and, to look inside instead of demanding that a parent, husband, friend or other helper to do it for me. 


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way