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January 11, 2011 / Daniel Fox

The Poetic Journey

A few weeks ago I dusted off my old songwriting hobby to see what would come out of me at this stage of life.

What I found was that my predilection for precise language made me a shitty poet. I wanted to write the most accurate words I could to describe the ideas the songs were exploring. What came out were preachy, jagged words that seemed to be written by a 60 year old autistic engineer.

I only realized this when, while making up a yet-to-exist second verse on the fly, the line “My heart will be a graveyard for your ghost” came out of my mouth. I recorded it, but it bothered me to no end.

Heart? Graveyard? Ghost?! What the hell? And the language is not even all that floofy, but still.

I was irritated, but why I was irritated wasn’t obvious for me. So I sat on it for a few days.

First of all, I noticed that I have this driving desire to be right. I’ve found that the more accurate my words are, the more I can cover my ass if I get called out for a potential misunderstanding of an idea.

There’s something so satisfying about being right. It’s not satisfying on the deepest level, but on the level of ego and mind. Few things in my daily routine match the dopamine release and self-satisfaction of RIGHTNESS.

But that dopamine release isn’t from the accuracy of an answer. It’s a smug disposition toward the vast mysteries of the world and the wonderful complexities inside other people.

The disposition of knowing the answer, keeps the most childish parts of me alive. I become the 8 year old who is just learning the elusive concepts of right and wrong and who has not yet grasped the difficult complexities of life and the plethora of motives that drive our behavior.

What I want is for my disposition toward questions to be that of a journey. For me, the journey lives in something akin to poetry. The poetic way has the liberty raise more questions and avoid  the most direct route. It can waste time, be confusing as hell, open to misinterpretations, and for certain, alienate the black and white thinkers around you.

In a day when we self-select into our chosen media outlets, social circles, books, blogs and hidden Facebook friends – we’re in more control than ever of the world we want to see. We can choose how concrete we want it to be and we can choose how much mystery we can accommodate.

I’ll raise a glass and drink to raising my tolerance for poetry and mystery and write a drinking song along the way just for fun.


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