Journey. How Poetry Saved My Life

"there is only one journey" quote by rilke

There is only one journey. Going inside yourself.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

This one’s for you is you’ve ever said, “Thank God for poets.”

Of maybe you’ve said thank God (or Goddess or the Universe) for writers, artists, teachers…

As for me, I’ve said Thank God for Poets (and Poetry) so many times it’s like a mantra.

You see, it was through the doorway of poetry that I first made the connection between artmaking and healing.

I can’t say exactly how.

But I can remember sitting in the stacks of the Arlington Heights, Illinois library. Sitting right there on the carpeted floor in the poetry aisle, pulling hardcover books off the shelves like medicine. This is where I found refuge after a particularly “difficult” year.

I’m putting the word “difficult” in air quotes, because, well… difficult is wildly understating it.

I was sixteen years old and had just gotten my driver’s license. Literally my first thought upon getting that license was, “Good. Now I can drive to any library I want.”

Before that, barely a year earlier, I was in a locked psych ward. Before that, I was in the hospital hooked up to a bunch of machines after I came out of a coma. Before that, I tried to off myself by overdosing on whatever combination of street drugs and prescription drugs I could choke down with a quart of vodka.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’ve never wrote about my suicide attempt publicly. I’ve barely even talked about it with people who know me well.

But this is what happens when I open up my creative process and share. We’ll see where this goes.

Thank God for poets.

As a kid who got a do-over and didn’t die, I felt so grateful for poets.

To me, these were people with as much despair as me—or more. But they also had the hope, love, faith, courage, or something, that compelled them to actually sit down and try to connect their inner world of feelings with the outer world of words.

To turn that despair into art.

Maybe I could do that, too, I wondered.

It’s by reading that I learned one can turn suffering (or any strong emotion) into art. So I started writing every day, privately in my journal. This became my new lifeline and my creative practice.

Maybe I’m writing this, right now, so that you can take heart when you sit down and dare to write.

Take heart. Take courage.

Whether you are daring to write your private thoughts in your own journal, or you are daring to write your poetry, or a memoir, or a novel…or your own blog post. Maybe you’re in the throws of publishing.

By all means do it.

You never know who might connect with your words.

You may never know how your words or your example are a lifeline for someone you’ll never meet.


Journey: 30 Day Journal Project with Lisa Sonora30 Day Journal Project

This post is part of the 30 Day Journal Project. Our theme for 2017 is the Creative Journey.

You can get the whole scoop and join the 30 Day Journal Project here. It’s free to participate.

For now, here are today’s writing prompts inspired by poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

Writing prompts for your journal…

The journey I long to take…
This journey is inspired by…
Going inside myself looks like…

Video Writing Prompts

I’ve tried something new with this year’s 30 Day Journal Project and created a video of the writing prompts. I read the prompts to you, as you write along. Just like I do in my workshops.

Audio Writing Prompts

Prefer plain audio? You can get an .mp3 of today’s prompts

Journey: How Poetry Saved My Life, blog post

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