Walking the Way

As a young man, I was angry
that I was learning everything the hard way.
I wanted some guidance, some warning
about the sharp turns in the road ahead.

I railed at everyone around me,
frustrated that I had no road map,
until I began to understand that I had the tools
I needed to make my own way.

I began to draw and write,
crude at first, without a doubt,
but it was my map, and it was enough,
and more, it empowered me to be me.

I’m still unfolding that map today,
fleshing out details here, looking fondly
on areas I no longer walk, as well as
all the new spaces, ever expanding.

Doubt drives me still, so I check
the map often to be sure I’m on track.
And I’ve let go of the anger at myself
when I find myself off the path.

Some days, the map folds up neatly,
the creases aligning, beauty like origami.
Other days, I fold it the wrong way,
and struggle to make it pocket-size again.

And on the occasional day, it’s a prop
for a bit of sleight of hand.
You may not know where it is,
because I misdirected you, but I know.

And now I wonder: will my sons want
me to give them a road map?
Or will they make their own metaphor?
It’s this big blank space right here.

I’ll give them more guidance than I got,
but I won’t be upset when they ignore me.
It will be their map that they’re writing
and drawing on – and walking and dancing.

I’ll give them a map and suggest some places
to begin, but then I’ll cede control,
and tell them it’s okay to be off the path,
as long as you’re still on the map.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to the walk of life prompt at Poetic Bloomings.

11 thoughts on “Walking the Way

  1. I love this, Richard. I’ve told you before what a great thing it is that you’ve not only learned from your path…but apply it so well to being a dad yourself. Your boys are lucky to have you. I loved the while thing…but especially liked the line about origami.



      • Paula, thank you. I didn’t expect a response from you so quickly, so it was a pleasant surprise. I appreciate your kind words so much. I very much want to be a good father – and it’s not always easy. I just have to learn to trust what I have on my map. And keep working on adding more.



  2. Oh, this is good advice. There are some tips and guidance we can give, but ultimately I guess we write our own handbook, don’t we? Well done. Thank you for this.


  3. My absolute favourite poem of yours, Richard. I wish I could show you the notes for the poem I have been building, on my map [for years]. You would be astonished how many ideas and phrases we share. The origami? Yep! How, or why, did you decide on this form?



    • Margo, well, what do I say. I’m flabbergasted by “absolute favourite”. Thank you so much. This one started as stanzas of couplets, but wasn’t working. So, I took another direction with it. That first stanza ended up being a quatrain, and I just stuck with that structure for the rest of the poem.



  4. Richard, I love the ending…that it’s okay to be off the path as long as you are still on the map! You are a wise father. Children definitely do need guidance, lots of it, but also have to be given the tools to find their own way. This poem definitely is one of my favorites too!


    • Mary, thank you. I appreciate your kind words. I was hoping to strike the right balance here, just as I try to do in my parenting, between guidance and tools. And my own struggle with making sense of that seeming disparity.



      • It’s scary sometimes, isn’t it? You do your best to balance discipline and love, be firm when we have to, say yes when we can, but as they get older and need to make their biggest decisions on their own. . . whew, my dear friend Keith reminds me now and then that this is all part of the growing up–the letting go.


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