Blank Paper

I was unafraid of writing
      on blank paper
And duly found myself in time
      asleep outside the granary
At the midpoint of adult life.

The riches and sustenance of the granary are both privilege
      and birthright. So:
Are you just coming out
Or are you on your way in?

The issue of the so-called midlife crisis is as follows:
Having received the first half of your life as a gift
      and realized as much
You now see the full shape of its arc
And know that the second half of your life you can, and must, give
      as a gift

The impetus for what comes next is widely and wrongly assumed
      to be new, awakened, or renewedly cogent
            self-awareness of mortality, but this is only
                  because the next decision that must be taken
                        is so often and so publicly decided in favor
                              of selfishness

For your options are thus:
Give the gift of the second half of your life
      to yourself
Or give it to another.

Living the first option is merely a turning over,
      after a brief approach to near-consciousness,
            in comfortable sleep:
As your own beneficiary, live and spend to excess.
The death you knew of all along
      will arrive soon enough.
You are on your way out of the granary
      with your arms full
            of whatever you can carry in haste.
Because what you have taken is yours, you are not a thief,
Yet on the street outside and down every road you will travel
      for the rest of your life
            you will be welcomed as an honor student
                  by anyone with access to your pockets.

Living the second option is a standing
      to your full height:
Truly entering the granary at last, seek out who's in charge.
The prospect of learning how to give after half a life of receiving
      has stirred you to appropriate gratitude
            but now you know you need lessons.
You are looking for the proprietor—the One
Who defines Giving.

You feel your heart beating
      and realize that as each heartbeat in the first half of your life was a gift
            so each heartbeat for the rest of your life will be yet another,
                  as each heartbeat is, has been, and will be,
                        for every soul ever alive.
Trace their stream
      to its Source.
The Giver of that gift is your Teacher,
      and you are blank paper.

Yes, it has come to

February 25–27, 2003 Copyright © 2003 by David Newkirk ( All rights reserved.