Poetry by Charles Joseph

Aiming To Think

Daily writing prompt
Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim

In my freshmen year of high school (secondary—year 2011-12), I had a teacher by the name of Ms. Sandy for my introductory English class. Ms. Sandy was a wonderful teacher, and an incredible person too. One thing about her that might have been inconvenient at times is that she was disorganized—very disorganized. So, sometimes there wouldn’t be a lesson plan for the class. Maybe, at times, she’d forget to assign homework—which no one had a problem with until she started asking for that homework the next day. But the inconvenient thing about her that brings you this story is that she often forgets to print enough classwork to accommodate for every student in her class.

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

One day, while nearing the end of the class period, Ms. Sandy assigned the class our classwork to turn-in on our way out of class. I was sitting in the middle of the classroom—not in the back, in the front, nor in the beginning/end of a row/column of desks—but, somehow, I was the last student to receive their classwork. When she got to me, Ms. Sandy had already ran out of classwork sheets. Hold your buttocks folks because Ms. Sandy Clumsy STRIKES AGAIN!!!💥 She apologized, ran to her desk, grabbed a random piece of paper, ran out of the classroom to the copy room down the hallway, printed the classwork on the back of that paper, ran back to the classroom, slapped that paper on my desk, and apologize one more time—frustrated at herself, and out of breath. While doing the classwork, I noticed that there was something printed on the other side of the sheet. Frustrated that the classwork has two sides, I turned the paper over to see how bad this class period is going to get. The back of the paper didn’t have more classwork, it had a poem—“If” by Rudyard Kipling. In that moment, the rest of my life changed.

Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch

I spent the remaining 10-15 minutes of class reading that poem over and over and over again. I was stupefied by the content of the poem. Every single word spoke to me. Every single message that was delivered in the poem felt like it was planting itself into me. This whole idea of “if…” expanded my mind. It opened my mind to allow for more possibilities, wonderment, amazement, speculation, acceptance, and wander-ment to come into it. The advice(s) in that poem resonated more than anything else that I have and will ever hear from that day forward. Ms. Sandy told us to leave the classwork on the desk nearest to the door on our way out. I tucked that sheet of paper with a poem on one side and a half-completed classwork on the other into my book-bag, kept my head low, and walked out of the class quickly and quietly so that she wouldn’t notice that I didn’t turn in anything. 

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies

In March 22nd, 2014–Junior year of high school—I was struck by a car as I was walking to take the train to a University Preparation Course. The car ran through the red light and hit me. I went flying about 30 feet into the air—landing head-first in the street (highly recommended manner of landing btw). I suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury, and was put into a medically induced coma with a 48% chance of ever waking up. The doctors had predicted that the coma would last about two years, but after the first 11 days I started kicking and spitting out words. A few days after waking up, when I finally made it to a therapy hospital (half of my body was paralyzed) where I could learn how to walk, run, eat, cross the street, speak, poop, piss, breathe, move my arms, grab something, swallow water, and swallow food—you name it—the doctor said that judging from my condition I would be in that hospital recovering for another two years. From the moment I had gained consciousness to the moment I had accepted what had happened to me and what was my current reality, questions and confusions were boggling up my mind. Moreover, words from “If” by Rudyard Kipling were bouncing against every corner in my head, “If…if…if…treat imposters…the same…build up…loss…worn tools…none too much…lose common touch…walk with kings…never breathe a word…broken…dreams your master…not be tired…waiting…trust yourself…dream…start again…don’t talk too wise…pitch and toss…sixty seconds…twisted by knaves…one heap…don’t look too good…if…if…but what if?” As soon as I was given my phone, I looked for the poem and read it repeatedly. That quote gave me goosebumps the most, “If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim.” 

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

and stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools

To give you some background on myself, I live in my head more than in the world. Before I accepted myself as an introvert (read more about that here), I had my suspicions—judging by the warmth and comfort I felt when alone. I spend so much time talking to myself. Solitude is great—blah-blah-blah—but how many goals did I have where my lack of actions only led me to making excuses that would help me swallow better the bitter feeling of realizing that I hadn’t put in the work needed for that goal? I just let the goal live in my head. I accomplished all of what I’ve ever wanted to accomplish…in my head. So much was possible for me, and I knew that—in my head. Therefore, I do a terrific job in manifesting. I saw everything, and I saw them clearly too, but that was only one half of the puzzle. The other half is dragging your ass to the field to put in the physical labor. I was always too occupied by the thought of doing that. My thoughts were my aim until that poem made me face that flaw. That poem carried me through my recovery. In every therapy session, with every compliment to my hard work and progress, each time the therapist trusted me to stand on my own but I ended up face-planted on the floor—that time when my therapist made me race him down the hospital hallway—the words in that poem were ringing in my head. It was Me and That Poem VS Myself and I. Two months after being admitted as an in-patient, I walked out of the hospital on my own two feet knowing how to walk, run, eat, cross the street, speak, poop, piss, breathe, move my arms, grab something, swallow water, and swallow food—you name it—all on my own.

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

There are, of course, so many other quotes that resonate with me. Some even hit home much deeper than, “if you can think but not make thoughts your aim”. But something about that quote—how simple it is; how daring it is; how it calls you out on your bullshit. The quote doesn’t do too much nor does it do too little. It is perfect. I carry a copy of “If” in the local folder on my phone. Therefore, I can read it as often as I would like to—and I have read it so much that I‘ve basically memorized it. But even on the days that the words of the poem are too far to reach, one line always echos up there—never failing to bring me goosebumps. If you can think but not make thoughts your aim. What if I put some action behind this extravaganza of thoughts instead of telling everyone of an aim that I have; I will work on; I am working on (once every two weeks)? What’s keeping you from getting that effort out of your mind to putting it out there in the real world?

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

15 responses to “Aiming To Think”

  1. Wow, talk about parralel lives! I gave that poem to my son on his graduation day from high school!! 🥰

    1. You gave him the best gift!!

      1. Yes, may be, I don’t know. But, he gave me his first rose LOL

        1. hahahaha that’s super cute because he gets to practice and it also means he knows that women (most of them) love roses!

          1. I don’t know, all those thorns

            1. Yeah honestly, I never understood the deal with these thorny flowers. But the media says it’s cute and meaningful so I rest my case

            2. I dated this girl once who hated flowers as a gift because she didn’t like that they always die. So now no one is ever gonna get flowers from me muhahahahah

              1. My husband got a dozen roses sent to him for his birthday when we were dating. I just wanted to make a point. We buy flowers because whoever is receiving them has everything they need already or we do not know their taste in clothes etc, flowers by nature should die, it’s a waste, hence its an extravagance, you’re willing to throw your money away so to speak. It also means nothing last forever, enjoy the moment now, don’t wait till tomorrow. Because tomorrow is lost. So don’t give up on flowers yet. 😅

                1. Wow you’re the realest person I’ve ever met. I love that I know you and get to talk to you from time to time. Your wisdom is needed. Hi best friend 🙂

                  1. Ha ha, cute yeah. Thanks 26. 😘

                    1. Thanks to you! 🥰

  2. Thank you very much for all

    1. Of course! Thank you for your comment!

  3. Excellent post. I love the deeper thinking here.

    1. Thank you immensely Tara!

Leave a Reply

More To ReaD

May 2023

More of Me

Join 1,008 more Readers

Say Hello:

%d bloggers like this: