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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day -- This Way? Seasonal Challenges to the Disconnected
The Disconnected Ones
Naivete at my age can hardly be excused, yet I confess I still feel puzzled and amazed to find so many otherwise intelligent and talented people disconnected from meaningful, socially productive activity -- unhappy, bored, depressed, dissatisfied with life, often condemning other people, yet seemingly unable, or unwilling, to do even the most obvious things required to get themselves back on a happy, upward track.
The impact hits me doubly hard because my own life contains some stints of the very same stalemate experiences. Perhaps I assumed when I got reconnected, the problem got solved for everyone else as well.
In the big picture, however, we can easily see that any one such person suffering from serious disconnect also causes everyone else to suffer as well. Not just through empathy, however important that may be, but through loss of that person's contributions to the larger community that contains us all.
Gearing up to start a new Employment Challenges Workshop in September, I encounter life stories of constantly "shooting oneself in the foot," which sent me searching for this poem I first wrote on Wednesday, August 21, 2002. Its larger context was a manuscript describing "The Meaning of American Culture" by telling some of my own life experiences with un-employment, under-employment, and mis-employment, not to speak of those routinely occurring bouts of unhappiness, depair, and disconnection that most people have at one time or another in life.
This frankly didactic poem, newly revised for publication here, thus presumes to provide lyrical insight to all readers, but especially to give any disconnected people some ideas for self-diagnosis, a look in the mirror, perhaps some catharsis, even perhaps some action therapy that might lead out of a psychological trap. I hope the poem restores even a few readers to their unique productive potential.
Re-using in a new way the wonderful first line of William Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 (copyright expired!) expresses once again, and without shame, our 400-year reliance on the over-abounding literary skill and wise humanity embedded in all of his work.
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day -- This Way?
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day -- this way?
Too broiling hot to let your healthy children out to play?
Too thirsty dry to let your dusty, struggling grass grow green?
Too glaring bright to let your finest qualities be seen?
Or are you more like autumn when you hesitate
between fulfilling summer's passionate embrace
and worrying about the coming winter storm,
content to flaunt your many-colored uniform
in silence and regret, but relishing the pain
of knowing you have suffered much with little gain,
still talking to yourself, or joking like a fool,
while half the world constructively goes back to school?!
The winter's icy sullen glances tell us where
we stand exactly any moment we are there.
The message's intention does not need
to be inferred from what we cannot read
between the non-existent lines of its
forsaken correspondence, nor from fits
of brittle disaffection with the daily, subtle give-
and-take that makes it possible, and promising, to live.
While spring encourages new nature's happy chore
of bringing life and brave expression, you ignore
what other people say, or think, or want to do,
and act as if there could be nothing worthwhile new.
You seem to like it best when spring is short and weak
and nothing fresh can likely grow, or even peek
from out beneath its winter covers, once designed
to give relief, but now to smothering consigned.
The passing seasons often find the time to disagree,
but you dislike the honest arguments that bring reality,
that chide us upward toward a more exalted life
by pruning back our branches dead from ancient strife.
You find it easier to scorn the use of verbal skills
and straighten out instead your faded, dangled daffodils,
supposedly secure within your splendid isolation
from all the roaring ruckus of the real civ-i-li-za-tion.
Copyright (c) August 2011 by Max J. Havlick, The Max Havlick School of Personal Creation and World Citizenship, a nonprofit project of New World Community Enterprises, Inc., 16 W. Vermont St., Villa Park, Illinois 60181-1938 (30 min. from O'Hare Airport), all rights reserved. Permission granted to make copies that include the introduction, poem, and copyright notice.