Sinking Self

Here’s a line from one of my favourite poets, Denise Riley:

‘the eyes of the girls are awash with violets
pansies are flowering under their tongues
they are grouped by the edge of the waves
and are anxious to swim
and each one is on fire with a passion to achieve herself.’

This passion – to achieve oneself – is something that burns within us all, though I suspect teenage girls feel it most intensely. It’s fed by our longings, our fears and our culture.  But perhaps it’s in us as well, right from the start.

Scripture says that God has put eternity in our hearts – or, as Augustine puts it: ‘Oh God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their hope in you’ .

Here’s my heart: I know what’s best.  I know what I need.

success.   possessions.  affirmation.  work. food. booze. beauty. When one splinters in my hand, I’ll clutch at another.

I’m consuming and consumed.

Each failure leaves me emptier than before, but I can’t slow down.

I’ve lost sight of the goal – but it doesn’t matter. I’ll achieve myself.


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