I hate when that happens.
In any case, the poem below was inspired during a walk home from work one day. A really, really good song came on my iPod and I felt the urge to dance. But didn't. It spurred me to ask the question why I didn't (and still don't). The answers of course are simple. What would others think? (Who's that whack-job dancing?, is what they'd think.) The other answer is because no one needs to see someone of my stature dancing, even under the best conditions.
But it made me realize that we stifle so much of ourselves our whole lives for fear of what others think. This stifling and fear of judgement are stress causing. Stress = bad for the heart. And, well, if you read the poem, you'll see where it went. The take away from it is that you should be true to yourself more (with the exception of public displays of white guy, unrhythmic dancing) and worry less about what others think. It might just prolong your life.
Doctor Recommended* by Jim Landwehr
What if they discovered that
the stifling of self-expression
caused the early onset of disease?
That if everyone who ever
had a song in their heart, but did not dance,
set the stage for an aneurysm at forty-four?
Those who wanted to sing
at the top of their lungs in the library but didn’t,
generated cancerous cells?
Or if not hugging your father,
or not crying for fear of ridicule,
jump started your own arthritis?
What if we could live to be 140
if we took that guitar lesson, got that tattoo,
or grew those dreads we’d always meant to?
Maybe if we built more art galleries, concert halls and bookstores,
taught more viola, art history and rumba,
we might do with fewer hospitals and nursing homes.
*Doctor Recommended was previously published in Heavy Bear magazine.
JimLandwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir will be released by eLectio Publishing on June 17th, 2014. He has non-fiction stories published in Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, Heavy Bear online magazine and others. He also has a fiction story published on the Free Zombie Fiction Blog. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.