If You Could Go Back

I read an amazing poem today, and want to share it with you. It’s called “If You Could Go Back” by Danny Bryck:

I know, I know
If you could go back you
would walk with Jesus
You would march with King
Maybe assassinate Hitler
At least hide Jews in your basement
It would all be clear to you
But people then, just like you
were baffled, had bills
to pay and children they didn’t
understand and they too
were so desperate for normalcy
they made anything normal
Even turning everything inside out
Even killing, and killing, and it’s easy
for turning the other cheek
to be looking the other way, for walking
to be talking, and they hid
in their houses
and watched it on television, when they had television,
and wrung their hands
or didn’t, and your hands
are just like theirs. Lined, permeable,
small, and you
would follow Caesar, and quote McCarthy, and Hoover, and you would want
to make Germany great again
Because you are afraid, and your
parents are sick, and your
job pays shit and where’s your
dignity? Just a little dignity and those kids sitting down in the highway,
and chaining themselves to
buildings, what’s their fucking problem? And that kid
That’s King. And this is Selma. And Berlin. And Jerusalem. And now
is when they need you to be brave.
is when we need you to go back
and forget everything you know
and give up the things you’re chained to
and make it look so easy in your
grandkids’ history books (they should still have them, kinehora)
is when it will all be clear to them.

–Danny Bryck

Be nice to each other, okay? We’re all struggling with stuff, and we all want the best for ourselves and our loved ones. Aloha, Alyx
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23 Responses to If You Could Go Back

  1. Nicky Read says:

    Amen. If only people weren’t fools over religion and politics and what they think is normal and everyone else is not.

    And why can’t we all just get along? (credit goes to the imp from World of Warcraft)

    I mean, I know why we can’t. (greed, evil, arrogance, stupidity, ignorance – the list is endless)

    But why not? Are we really all so different? The average person, that is. We’re all black, brown, yellow, red, white, and whatever in between. All colors of the same rainbow. All members of the same human race.

    It’s when we start thinking we’re better than others that we forget we’re no different than our neighbor.

    Unfortunately we still have to deal with the outliers (murders, rapists, sexual predators, etc), and that’s when we should get down on our knees and thank God we didn’t end up like that. And even if you don’t believe in a higher power, you can still be thankful that you fall in the “normal” spectrum of humanity.

    For as much as that child over there could be the next King or Ghandi, they might also be the next Hitler or Saddam Hussein; and we owe it to future generations to make the world a better place.

    Just my two cents off the top of my head.
    Peace out, my brothers and sisters.

    • Mil says:

      Yeah! Great poem 🙂 We have so much inequity today that we have constructed and normalised. I hope we don’t have to wait too far in the future for it to be seen so. Peace out

      • Alyx says:

        I know you’re waiting for all the villagers with pitchforks, Mil. I’m afraid that’s what it might take before those in power give it up. I hope not, though. 🙂

      • Woodsy says:

        Some of the same stuff bothers me too. What’s scary is how easily it can be normalised… and how even situations like lockdown can swing in a variety of ways. Some of those who see it most profoundly seem to be among those who really struggle to find a voice.
        My own, in fact, which was speaking to audiences round my community last year, feels a little wobbly right now.
        When I was in the worst situation a while ago, seeing comments like yours always meant something. It meant somebody saw. Sometimes, to people at the bottom of the pile, that is everything.

    • Alyx says:

      Welcome Nicky. I’m glad you liked the poem, and I agree with you. I agree with the imp from World of Warcraft too. 😀

  2. Woodsy says:

    Those places… bills to pay… things to deal with, things that make no sense trying to define our life… in those places, hiding in plain sight…
    Those beautiful, challenging, earth-shattering walks, just down the street.

    Beaautiful piece. Hope you guys all ok in amingst the craziness of stuff.

  3. patty says:

    Nice poem, wish I could go back.🍀😷

    • Alyx says:

      You wouldn’t really want to go back, would you, Patty? At least, not before the internet, I hope! 😀 (Glad you liked the poem.)

  4. Xen says:

    That’s pretty powerful. Similar feelings have been running through my head since 2016. I guess for me it hasn’t really gotten any clearer since then what is the appropriate action to take or when, so it’s just a constant seesaw between that need for normalcy and the anxiety of everything that’s wrong. At least for once I’m pretty sure the best thing I personally can be doing right at this moment really is nothing.

    • Alyx says:

      Wow, you’ve been wrestling with that a long time! So the pandemic and its enforced inaction must be a kind of relief, really? I hope you find resolution soon, Xen. I’ve found sometimes meditating on something helps — when you get really still, sometimes things get clear. Good luck! 🙂

      • Xen says:

        Trying to avoid getting too political, but I think it’s been a pretty common rumination in the US since the last election… to many of the actions that have come to light have mirrored history in really alarming ways.

        Mind you, our country was doing plenty of harm before 2016, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, it’s just been a lot more overt lately.

        I definitely wouldn’t say the pandemic has been a relief, but I suppose having a clear course kind of is. I’m in the most privileged possible position: I don’t have an essential job that puts me in harms way. My husband has a job he can do remotely with a large company that is not in any eminent danger of needing to do layoffs (much less folding), and if they do get to that point, his job is still pretty secure. I don’t work, so I can focus on making sure the kids are healthy and doing what is reasonable for school. We have a large backyard where the kids can play. And some woods nearby to walk in when everything gets too much to process. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. There’s still plenty of stress and fear and consequences of social isolation for all of us, but really for my family “stay at home” couldn’t be much easier. I have a lot of people I care about who aren’t as lucky and I worry about them a lot and wish I could do something to help beyond offering to pick up some groceries… I have friends I’m watching maybe lose their life’s work and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

        I have tried meditation, but I’m pretty terrible at it, and making the effort to work at it regularly ended up stressing me out more than anything. 😆 Doing more active forms of “meditation” seem to work a lot better for me… walking in the woods tends to help me calm down, doing martial arts forms can help, and swimming is probably the closest I’ve ever come to a meditative state. Swimming isn’t an option at the moment, but I should probably make an effort to do the other two more often.

        I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve been at quarantine levels of anxiety for the last 4 years! It’s just the sentiment in the poem reflected a lot of the guilt I feel about not “acting” in some way when I hear news about things happening that seem impossibly wrong.

        • Alyx says:

          Ah, yes, okay. I understand now what you’re referring to. I share your concern about the direction our country has gone and feel very conflicted over whether what I’m doing is enough. I also consider myself very lucky (have remained virus-free so far *knock on wood* and still have a job), but sometimes just maintaining is a struggle. I try to “be the change I wish to see in the world” and hope that makes a difference.

          As far as martial arts and swimming, I definitely think they can be forms of meditation, so I’m glad you have found something that works for you. There is such a thing as walking meditation, and the woods sound like a lovely place to do it. I find nature incredibly healing. 🙂

  5. Robin says:

    Thank you Alyx, I feel too its an amazingly powerful poem who shows a clearsighted very important perspective; Its easy in retrospective to judge the people who went wrong because of fears and weaknesses, and sometimes a hopeless personal situation. It could so easily have been oneself unable to see beyond the twisted dangerous so called normality then. And we are. I am. Sacrificing others in the process. Still we must do all possible in our power to not go there or stay there. Not to accept oppression, destruction and such as “normal”. I know I have not done enough. And i wrestle the guilt trying to sooth it with “noone can do everything but everyone can do something” to get energy to be part of at least a little bit of the solution.
    And NOW we actually have been forced to give up a lot of our normality. We can see more clearly when the smog dissolves. We must take this opportunity to change direction away from the unequal, oppressing, polluting, exploiting and destructive way of living into something better. In all this devastating horror there are also a window opening i think.

    • Alyx says:

      That’s a very profound summary of things, Robin. I also wrestle with things, but am uplifted daily by the caring I see around me. For every act of greed and stupidity there is an act of compassion and generosity. It’s really true that crises bring out both the best and worst in people, eh? I hope I am able to keep my eyes and heart open to see that window you speak of. 🙂

      • Robin says:

        Alyx, I can see you are right; the best and worse! And the good things really do makes a difference. You have got a very open heart and open eyes too.❤
        I have been in a bit of a low place for a while but suddenly see the hope and power in what looked like darkest chaos. Perhaps even inside myself. Protests are awakening perhaps getting even more power from the frustrations of lockdown. Words about change and care for the world and insights comes from places were it was never seen before. I do think the window opens!

    • Woodsy says:

      A while back, when I was on the verge of quitting a few things that touched other people far more than I realised, a couple of comments you made in this blog helped bring me back and inspire me to continue… even to grow.
      Sometimes Robin, the tiniest, most tentative things we do can prove to be so much more than enough.

      • Robin says:

        Woodsy, thank you so much for saying that. It honestly meant a lot to me. Im very glad you didn’t quit anything and it makes my heart a little warmer that I could help a tiny bit.🙂 You are writing amazing things and you definitely inspire me. Your last sentence is a very comforting thought.

  6. Woodsy says:

    Such a tender face I saw,
    dancing with all the things I’m not.

    Such a tender face I saw,
    woven with stars and forest green,
    with water,
    drained through mountain cloud;
    through tide and broken shell.

    Such a tender face I saw,
    daring me
    to wear me

    like a spark.

    Such a tender face I saw,
    dancing with all the things I’m not
    calling me home to what I am,

    in waves of gentle fire;

    watching the echoes as lesser loves burn.

    • Alyx says:

      Wow, that’s beautiful, Woodsy! It makes me think of sitting watching a bonfire at night on the beach (something I’ve not done in a long time). You really are a gifted poet. 🙂

      • Woodsy says:

        Thank you. I’m honoured.
        Probably helps that this is one of my bonfire on the beach places (much though the world might not understand that).

    • Robin says:

      I love this poem Woodsy! Agree with Alyx about the bonfire feeling. Make me think of the best of meetings with other souls, like the kindred spirits kind. Or perhaps the deep connection with nature…
      Guys, I think its about time for a campfire!😄

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