He shook his fist from the stage

Because it makes you feel good.
Because it’s tax deductible.
You’ll cross off a box on that long list –
and you’ll sleep better.

What do we have to spare?
Hope to receive it back.
Everyone in the office is –
You should too.

The biggest check,
Has your signature at the bottom –
I wonder if that wing of the church,
has a name already?

Gold plaques
with embossed letters.
Full page spreads
in every local newspaper.

Because it’s a competition.
Because it’s about you.
He shook his fist from the stage –
and said you won’t feel guilty.

You really hate to feel guilty
It’s like being exposed a fraud.
You hate to feel guilty,
More than you care to give.

I think I found myself a cheerleader

I am at an event, set to preform at the end of the night. I sit in my chair, feet planted firmly into the hardwood, and listen. One by one, I watch other, seemingly less talented performers go before me. I judge them. I judge their diction. Their volume. Their speaking voice. Their choice of words. Their lack of flow. Their inability to memorize their material. I judge every aspect of their performance. After an hour of non-verbal condescension, I realize what I am doing.

I take a deep breath in, centering myself in the room. I am very concentrated on the pace of my breath and tell myself something:

It is not about being better or worse than anybody. It is about realizing that you simply have something to say and it is valuable.

For some of the other performers, the act of getting up on stage is like moving a mountain. Others are able to communicate the pain of past trauma to a group and receive positive feedback. I realize that too often I am playing the comparison game and competing for no reason instead of celebrating with (albeit less polished) people.

We live in a world of comparison where we compare sons and daughters to see who’s more attractive and smarter.

I want to stop trying to beat someone, stop beating myself up and give the mic a beating. As someone once told me,”Read critically, write consciously, speak clearly and tell your truth.” I want to be more of a cheerleader and less of a critic.