Personal Poetry Retrospective

Survival Guide (From my archives)

books from our childhood home
Our Parents’ Gifts

Survival Guide (Enumeratio Poem)

I love enumeratio poetry! I decided just to have fun with this, and made a numbered list in response to the prompt. As an aside, here: I have been writing (and referring to) survival lists/guides ever since I started journaling sometime in the early sixties, while I still was in high school. As I finished each journal, I would copy my list into the new one, go through the old one to pull out the “creative writing” pages, and then shred or burn the old journal. I quit doing paper journals around beginning of this century.

Write yourself a survival guide as a list poem: What are the things you need to know to survive? What should you have known? What do you need to remember? What do you know that only you can tell yourself? What items do you need? What actions do you need to take? [Sarah Tatro, Poetry Super Highway]

Survival Guide:
Things I decided, at one time or another, that I knew
and needed to remember
(a recent edition)

1. Nobody knows the answers. Everyone is making it up as they go along.

2. It’s better to screw up making your own mistakes than making someone else’s.

3. Make a list of what you know and, if possible, why you think you know it. Then make decisions on the basis of that list, not on what you want to be real, when you’re going crazy.

4. God understands your messes, and they don’t bother Him. He doesn’t confuse them with what or who you are, and neither should you.

5. Gain or loss, pleasure or pain, discovery or routine, sickness or health, friends or isolation, life or death. There are no guarantees or promises concerning these, life’s incidentals. And, they don’t count.

6. You are not alone. You are always loved. You are loved and valued neither more nor less than any and every other living being in creation. You are cared for. Always. No matter what.

7. Act justly, observe appropriate opportunities to perform acts of loving kindness, walk discretely with God, and with everyone else. As one among all the others.

8. We are all equally responsible. God is the One who’s capable.

9. You will never come to the end of things you do not know, or, knowing, things you do not understand. That’s not in your job description. You are responsible to give and receive love.

10. You have a profound purpose in life. You achieved it sometime before you turned twenty (or 10 … or whenever), and you’ll never know what it was. Everything since then has been gravy.*

Copyright © 2017-04-25, by Lizl Bennefeld. (For 2017’s NaPoWriMo Event)

*”everything else is gravy” = extra or beyond what’s expected or necessary in a good way.


By Liz

Tired person, retired after 30 years of freelance writing/editing/photo artwork, and surrounded by almost endless possibilities.

2 replies on “Survival Guide (From my archives)”

I perceive a need for such wisdom and caring today. Liz, what what you have written reminds me (in the bestest of ways) of what I have read by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. (My computer doesn’t do unlauts – or if it does, I don’t know how. Ditto for tilde’s (tildae?) over the letter ”n” in Spanish words such as Senora or manana. Speaking of manana, ’tis time I retired for the night.

I’m so happy that you like it, John! As I think I mentioned in the intro, I have been doing these “survival guides” since sometime in high school. Helpful in remaining reality based. 🙂

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