Words on Words: Exploring the facets of disappointment


Alice Yu

[dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″ class=”A”]A[/dropcap]n inhabitant of New York and a spoken word poetry teacher, Sarah Kay has dabbled in the world of documentary filmmaking, photography, singing, songwriter, and also became a best-selling author with her book, “B”. Kay is not only a graduate of the United Nations International School and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, but she is also an alum of Brown University Graduate School’s Master’s Program in the Art of Teaching Secondary English. As a co-director of Project VOICE, Kay is part of a program that aims to use spoken word poetry to entertain, educate, and inspire.
During one of my TED Talk watching sprees, I stumbled across Sarah Kay’s dynamic presentation on the power of spoken word poetry. Her poem, “B”, drew from the fountain of wisdom, spewing forth advice about attitude, perspective, disappointment and love. While the whole poem is worthy of discussion, one line perfectly sums up life’s disappointments.
[quote cite=”Sarah Kay”]“There’ll be days like this…when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape.”[/quote] If you haven’t already, there will be times in your life when you set out with angelic intentions, only to become the devil’s accomplice after a series of unfortunate mishaps. Negativity somehow manages to seep through your soul, drown you in frustration and make you feel hopeless and helpless. No matter how it came to be or what the mishaps were, I still believe that there is positivity in every situation, even if it’s grossly outweighed by the negativity.
Blisters and bruises heal with time
A good night’s rest might be all it takes to feel comfortable enough to open up to people again, or it may take years, but just know that the comfort will return. The world isn’t all good, but it isn’t all bad either. When you open up to the world and throws back pain, turn back around and instead, open up to those close to you. It could be your parents, your siblings, or your closest friends. Be sure to find someone you can just talk to and share the disappointment. Never carry it alone.
Disappointment does have its benefits
This relates back to another quote from Kay, “Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much the like the taste of air.” It’s sounds violent and disparate, but it’s true in so many ways. Once you know what it’s like to lose what you have, you realize that you have so much to fight for. You may fall behind, but that doesn’t mean you have to quit. If anything, let it motivate you to work harder; fight more because you are worth it and you can do it. (Of course, these words are not meant to inspire those who intend to harm other human beings. If your grand plan is to hurt other people physically or emotionally, I suggest you self-reflect and ask yourself if inflicting harm on others will truly make yourself happier.)
Find out the root cause for why someone is holding you back
In the grand scheme of things, there are two reasons someone stands in your way. Either they’re selfish (which means they’re the problem), or they honestly think you’re on a harmful path (which means you are potentially the problem). First differentiate which one it is, and then decide whether or not to stay in the phone booth.
Forgive, but don’t forget
I don’t plan on falling victim to the same trick twice (though it does happen quite often), but I still want to be able to go through life with an open mind and lowered guard. So I’ve combined two moralistic sayings, “forgive and forget,” and, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” in to, “forgive, but don’t forget.” Holding a grudge is tiring. Personally, I don’t like to have hate living inside my soul because it tends to want to expand and become competitive and demeaning. I refuse to be someone like that. But I also refuse to be subject to lies and unfair treatment over and over again. I’ll forgive you, but don’t expect me to give you a clean slate every time you apologize.
Yes, there will be days when you face the world with a smile and in return, you’re shut down repeatedly with complaints and insults. But there will also be days when you step out your front down with a heavy heart, only to be greeted by the cheers of your loved ones. The way you face every day is up to you; the world can only respond.