Nella Coiro

“There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”

As I re-read Amanda Gorman’s eloquent and powerful inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” many thoughts crossed my mind. My first thought as a fellow poet was “Wow! What an incredibly gifted writer!” Second, I was impressed that a twenty-two year old woman had so much insight beyond her years. I certainly didn’t have her level of insight when I was in my 20’s. I also realized that although her poem were focused upon the country, her words could easily be applied to individual adversity, learning and growth. 

In this blog, I want to explore some excerpts that were particularly poignant, and led me toward further self-reflection. Let’s take a closer look: 

“When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry. The sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it.”

If you have ever felt depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, or have experienced adversity, tragedy or loss, you too might have searched for a glimmer of light within the darkness of your challenging circumstances. Yet somehow, hopefully, you were able to exit the darkness, and, as Gorman asserts, “braved the belly of the beast.” We are usually stronger and more courageous than we realize.

I don’t think that anyone would disagree with the fact that human beings are “far from polished” and “far from pristine.” Yet most of us try our best to walk through our obstacles, focused on resilience, and realize that “even as we grieved, we grew… even as we hurt, we hoped…even as we tired, we tried.” 

The poet goes on to talk about a nation that “isn’t broken”, but “simply unfinished.” Since a  nation is actually a collection of individuals, let’s talk about people. Can we really be “broken,”or, as she suggests, are we simply “unfinished?” I contend the latter. Although life can sometimes leave us feeling “bruised and battered,” I don’t believe that we can ever be “broken.” Rather, most of us endure, we try to learn from our mistakes, and strive toward being better people, and less “unfinished.” And it’s a lifelong journey.

I contemplated the following verse in further depth, because it also relates to vengeance versus forgiveness and letting go: “Victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.” Violence and the desire for revenge has never brought about “victory.” Even if someone has hurt us, retaliation will not truly soothe our pain, because this will not erase the offense. Further, this behavior will only make us a perpetrator, like the person who harmed us. 

Sadly, some in our society (too many), no longer see “agreeing to disagree“ as a viable option. Rather, disagreement has abruptly caused relationships to end, and ignited the flames of anger, hate, and violence. This must stop! Until we can “lay down our arms,” and embrace tolerance, even in the face of disagreements, then, as a society, we’re doomed to fail. This mentality is simply unsustainable.

Concerning our historical inheritance, Gorman asserts: “It’s the past we step into, and how to repair it.” Regardless of our past, we are not doomed to repeat it, and we have the ability and the choice to move beyond it. We can repair and change the future by what we choose to do today. 

Further, we can emerge stronger. We can enjoy life. We can laugh. We can recover. We can choose not to look back on the horrors of yesterday, and instead, look forward to the hope of tomorrow and of better days. Although life can wear us down, frighten us, and sometimes catch us off guard, ultimately we’ve got this! 

“For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”        


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