Letters To A Young Poet & Missed Opportunities

This past week, while Greg had most of the kids with him in Arizona, I partnered with my mom to re-decorate and re-define an unused formal living room in our traditional home into an office/work space for me and the girls. More on the transformation later, but here is a preliminary picture.

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The room had become a cemetery for everything – pictures, computer equipment, kid art, furniture – we didn’t know where else to put. I hate when that happens, especially when it happens in a room right off the front entry. But the good thing about these home improvement projects is that it gives you a reason to get organized and clean things out and HOT DAMN that feels good.

Image Credit: Mary Kate McDevitt via Etsy.com.

Image Credit: Mary Kate McDevitt via Etsy.com.

I’ve spent the past couple days going through boxes of miscellaneous items, one of which contained a group of books I have collected over the years and kept on my work desk – when I had one, that is. One of the books is Letters to a Young Poet, a moving collection of ten letters written by poet Rainer Maria Rilke to a young military cadet over a five or six-year period. My copy is extra special, though, because it was given to me by a dear college professor, Dan Daniels, during a pivotal time in my life; a time when I was writing a lot – free writing/journaling/poetry – and struggling to find my creative voice, my purpose.

I opened the book and read the notes Professor Daniels left for me on the back of the cover and in the margins, finding myself inspired and comforted again, both in his words and in the words of Rilke, as I struggle with many of the same questions I had then, a young college student. Out of curiosity, I went to the computer and googled “Dan Daniels Southwestern College” only to be directed to a nice article about him written by Dave Seaton for the Winfield Daily Courier.

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Professor Dan Daniels died December 13th, 2009.

Ouch. My heart hurt, reading the article and learning of his death several years back. He was a friend and mentor to me at a time when I needed encouragement, direction, and a no bullshit talking to about frittering away creative talent to appease the masses. If only I’d taken the opportunity to reach out and tell him this the last time I opened the book, when it sat on my desk all those years. But I didn’t, and what it comes down to is this.

When am I going to stop watching opportunities pass me by? Opportunities to express myself in whatever form. Opportunities to say thank you. Opportunities to tell someone how much they mean to me, how much I appreciate them. Or what about the opposite? It’s just as important to tell people when you don’t agree, when their actions have hurt you, or caused you harm in some way, or when they are no longer welcome in your life, right? I mean, what am I so afraid of?

I’m sure Professor Daniels could, and would, help me figure that one out.

Love, Carmen



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