“The Paradox”

I wish I could be at work. Did I have a productive day at home? Am I spending my time wisely? Today’s poem, “The Paradox” by performance poet Sarah Kay, speaks to the restlessness many of us are feeling as we navigate our second month of sheltering in place. We understand that we need to be home, but sometimes we can’t help but wish we could be somewhere else. . 

Sarah Kay performing “The Paradox” at Scripps College

The Paradox

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.

I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,

For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

— Sarah Kay

Where do you wish you were these days? What helps you shelter in place?

I’m reminded of Tolstoy’s short story The Three Questions when the king discovers that the most important place to be is always where you are right now — as difficult as that can be!


“The Paradox” by Sarah Kay from No Matter The Wreckage: Poems by Sarah Kay, 2014. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes

Photo: Sarah Kay, flickr.com

1 Comment

  1. I really like this one. Of course you know I wish I was at work. I also know those that are working wish they could be sheltering in place. I’m living the saying “Be careful what you wish for.” I used to wish I could stay home more instead of working all the time. Well, guess what? I’m home now and would much rather be working!

    Liked by 1 person

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