Things Fall Apart

Blessed to have some great teachers in my day, I have had an unparalleled privilege to be exposed to great literature and prose. But I love poetry, and one of my favorite poems is “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, of the famous line things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. 

As I lie in bed this morning contemplating all the things that are changing in my life–people dying, babies being born, folks growing old, our lives transitioning in ways that can never be the same–this poem started to reform in my memory. I could only grasp parts of it and so looked it up to figure out if the words and images accurately fluttered in my mind.  Upon reading it again for the first time in about 8 years I saw that my brain had not failed me; the dire prophesy of the poem with one of the most cribbed lines of all times still sat firmly within my psyche.

With the way things are going in America and the personal transitions that I am facing, the poem carries with it a reality check that I have been long avoiding: as I grow older and world worn, I can no longer deny that things will never be the same as always ever again.

It breaks my heart to face such truth. All the way into my now 37th year I have been fighting the inevitable changes that come with time. I have struggled mightily in the face of transition, trying desperately to plant myself (and my family with me) into a firm realm of surety as the panic welled up inside my soul. I have always known in my core that I could never win against the inevitable, yet time and again I have waged wars to stave off the changes that surround me. I think it is why I work in middle schools, fight wearing makeup, turn my nose up at donning suits, learn every silly dance craze that flares up, speak the broken language and slang that ebbs and flows fluidly–some insatiable need to stay small, to live a Peter Pan fantasy of never growing up and never growing old.

But responsibility never leaves anyone untouched. Despite my many attempts at otherwise, I have landed fully into the realm of adulthood and all the unknown that it brings. My face belies the terror in which I walk as I constantly brace myself for one upset after the other. Every good moment sits tainted by the shadows of how the best never lasts in the end. The solace of certainty that I seek only awaits me in my own death, even that day clouded with the wonder of how and what and where and when.

I am in transition, and so always will be.

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