Rhythm and rhyme

Because I love to share idiosyncratic little obsessions of mine with the world, I've chosen to open this note with two children's poems by Shel Silverstein:

When the light is green you go.
When the light is red you stop.
But what do you do
When the light turns blue
With orange and lavender spots?

Oh I am a chickie who lives in an egg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
For I hear all the talk of pollution and war
As the people all shout and the airplanes roar,
So I’m staying in here where it’s safe and it’s warm,

There is something so simple and proverbial about children’s poetry. I find great comfort in hearing the rhythm and rhyme of poems like these when they are read aloud. I always laugh when children respond with a giggle, a wrinkle in their noses, and some smart commentary that points to the irony or humor of the poem. 

But adults read these poems differently than most children do, I think, and the metaphors we recognize in these two poems are not quite as comforting as their rhythm and rhyme alludes. In fact, they are a bit disconcerting if you really begin to think about their messages. After all, what do we do when we don’t know what certain signals mean? And what happens when we don’t want to come out of our shells?
Still Harbor spends a lot of time talking about placement, orientation, and engagement. Sometimes during transitions, however, we also need to pause in order to consider and hopefully learn from our displacement, disorientation, and disengagement. What is it like to not recognize the signs around us? How does it feel to leave the safety and warmth of what we have grown to know? These feelings are hard to consider because of the sense of loss—big, small, real, and imagined—inherent in the process of separation and detachment. That said, our ability to identify and explore the moments in which we feel this loss can be a great help in recognizing and articulating the threads of our past that we carry forward as well as those things that are not lost but rather look or feel differently in our new settings.
If and when you experience these feelings of loss, whether through a sense of displacement, disorientation, disengagement, or more broad detachment, explore them. A bit of concentrated reflection--describing the feeling, examining what it is connected to, and seeking learning--might help you gain healthy perspective on your feelings and will begin to feel more objectively grounded in and connected to your past, present, and future. It is, after all, possible that red, green, and blue polka-dotted lights can coexist and that places of safety and warmth exist outside of the shells we have grown to know.

Thank you for giving me the venue to reflect and share,


(Associate Director)

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