A Poem on Demons and Life

This evening I will be running our Toastmasters Club meeting. Toastmasters is about communication and leadership. Part of my job is to choose a theme for the meeting. My friend Florian Mueck suggested I go with exorcisms (don’t know where he got that idea).

It is also my job to ask everyone with an active role in the meeting a question related to the theme. This was my question: If I were your exorcist, what demon would you like me to get rid of?

Asking myself this same question, I started playing with a few ideas, and ended up writing this rather philosophical poem. It reflects the irony of how we can sometimes work so hard for something and end up with the opposite, and how life has her way of waking us up to see this.

Though nowhere near his, I’m dedicating the poem to fellow philosopher, David Whyte. His poems have recently reignited my appreciation for the reflections poetry prompts. The audio file is a recording of me reading the poem.

IMPERSONATION

To David Whyte

In a pretension to be another, 

as if cursed by gods, 

possessed by a demon, 

or haunted by ghosts, 

I come to believe I truly am who I seek to be, 

just like a dream. 

But life strikes, 

unexpectedly and hard, 

the pain of the blow waking me from the dream.

Shedding the elusive skin of my pretension, 

I see the true nature of my predicament. 

Who decided who I would dream to be? 

Who has such power to enslave me to this dream? 

Who?  

Life strikes,

unexpectedly and hard, 

and I see the true nature of who, 

I see the gods that cursed me — the gods of perfectionism, 

I see the demon that possessed me — the demon of my ideal self, 

I see the ghosts that haunted me — the ghosts that think it is never enough.

Life strikes, 

unexpectedly and hard, 

and I hear its soft whisper,

“You are not the person you dreamt to be. 

Stop impersonating the ideal you.”  

In my pretension to be the best version of myself, 

I impersonated not another, 

but an idea, 

the idea of who I wanted to be, 

and so I came to believe I truly was who I sought to be, 

just like a dream. 

But I am not the person I dreamt to be, 

I am the dreamer. 

What demons would you like to get rid of?

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