One year ago, I packed up everything I owned, a few things I didn’t own, and left my life in Brooklyn for a life in Texas. It was, and continues to be, the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Since moving to Texas, if something could have gone wrong, it did. Big stuff. Little stuff. The kind of stuff we all mutter to ourselves “wouldn’t happen to me.” My life broke. I was left listening to Cat Power’s 3, 6, 9 over and over and over…
Through it all though, a poem stared down at me. It’s printed on a hot pink sheet, framed, sits above my desk. It was given to me when I graduated from college – May 17, 2003. My whole family signed it.
The poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Over the past year, I read that poem every day. I internalized it. Different lines carried different weights throughout, but no line was cast-away or forgotten. That poem became my mantra; something I would repeat when swimming laps or walking to the store. It carried me through rough times and helped me find my balance again.
The past year was very humbling. I learned that the support of my family and friends is unwavering though. That’s powerful stuff.
A new year is upon us. Stay positive. Stay strong. Triumph, Disaster, you’re nothing but an impostor! I’m not really sure what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be alright. It’s going to be alright.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!