By Portia Nelson,
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Chapter 1. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter 5. I walk down another street.
Hurried from the office, half-hours somehow having slipped away in spots i don’t notice. Arrived at the pool slightly late, courtesy of said time unaccounted for. I’m annoyed im missing what’s left of the dying dusk light. Heaving crowds in cool chlorine–yuk. Annoyed i wind myself into the same spot again.
I duck my head and begin to turn inward. Slid into the steely chlorinated blue, and began my laps. How many years have i spent in that swimming pool? And years before that in others. Yet my strokes still uncoordinated, i swim the way i’ve always swum. For so much time in the water, my feet still do not know. I promise myself again to maybe watch a youtube video on swimming properly.
Two minutes left on the clock.
I thought to tie up loose ends and to firm dreams neglected over the workweek. But then i thought too many things instead. Then the laps are done. The time says so too, anyway. I allow myself to float backwards, head anchored at the pool’s edge. I was late today and so i catch the moon’s light instead. A fingernail slice sharp and bright in the sky. It egged me. Strange how it’s pointing, always indicating. But only you care to observe. I tell myself to lay back, anchor my head more often, look out for the clear eternal beam.
I’m glad for the ruts. For then i can no longer deny i must shift gears.
. from beth hoeckel