friday feast: maintaining altitude

photo by idua_japan.


by Jennifer K. Sweeney

The Himalayan legend says
there are beautiful white birds
that live completely in flight.
They are born in the air,

must learn to fly before falling
and die also in their flying.
Maybe you have been born
into such a life

with the bottom dropping out.
Maybe gravity is claiming you
and you feel

For the one who lives inside the fall,
the sky beneath the sky of all.

~ from How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009).

I stumbled upon this poem by accident, and it was yet another saving grace. The lines, “maybe you have been born into such a life,” and, “for the one who lives inside the fall,” seem to perfectly describe the writer’s existence. As far as I’m concerned, writing chose me, not the other way around. Anyone in his/her right mind wouldn’t willingly choose the loneliness, insecurity, rejection, or compulsion to constantly compare oneself with others — the roller coaster of ups and downs that truly feels like trying to stay aloft without wings.

The Himalayan birds are “born in the air,” wings intact. Writers start out earthbound, then must depend upon words to take flight. Writers have to take that leap of faith every day, hurling themselves off high cliffs with no safety nets in sight, trying desperately to grow wings while battling gravity. We are told to “shine,” “spread our wings,” “dig deeper,” answer to a higher purpose, “to thine own self be true.” Most of the time it is a matter of flapping the few feathers we have — clumsily, haplessly, hopelessly. There are moments of glistening and gliding, the sun warming our backs. But each time out, with each new project, we must learn to fly all over again, eternal fledglings in search of just the right pocket of air.

photo by MaryBrooke.

Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you sunny skies and a good tail wind. I hope the expansive vista surrounding you comes into sharp focus and affords practical inspiration. Soar! ♥

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by Kyle at
The Boy Reader. Alight on a few blogs and enjoy the poems!

21 thoughts on “friday feast: maintaining altitude

  1. from Laura @ Author Amok

    Oh, Jama — what a wonderful, uplifting poem. Thanks for that. Our summer began with a death in the family, so I hear the truth in “Maybe gravity is claiming you.”


  2. This is said so eloquently! Everything you’ve said certainly applies to this dance we call life. Love, Syl


  3. Re: from Laura @ Author Amok

    So sorry about your loss, Laura. Each of us must deal with that ever-present gravity, there for different reasons, affecting us in different ways.


  4. Just lovely!

    I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the poem or your thoughts on the poem. This has been a soaring afternoon. I heard Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” earlier, and now this. It has been a lovely day.

    Thanks, Jama!


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