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.