You really don’t understand who you are until something is taken away from you, and I have to say, over the last few weeks, as I’ve watched my event calendar open up more and more, I’ve really begun to see what makes up the fabric of my life, and how I’ve built my therapy into my daily life.
It’s nothing new to me to understand that poetry has saved my life, time and time again, but as I’ve lost direct contact with so many friends and loved ones, so many open mic nights and community dialogues on social justice or anything really, the one thing I’ve found taking the place of that time is writing, and really poetry.
I’m cut from a different cloth then a lot of other folks. I spend a large amount of time in general just trying to understand myself. I struggle sometimes to want to socialize, probably something of an imposter syndrome, as I can’t stand the idea of acting, or of being insincere. At times, this leaves me in silence, not talking, and sometimes it leaves me feeling lonely.
This is in direct contrast with my love of people. One spring, while I was in college, I had some extra money and two weeks to kill so I took off on the road to Las Vegas. Along the way, I discovered Moab, Utah, a place that has become incredibly important to me, and eventually I arrived in Vegas. I quickly learned that it wasn’t the places that were important to me, it’s the people. It’s the experience of sharing things with people. I came to have a newfound appreciation for Anthony Bourdain, and the ideology he carried in how he traveled – find the local spots with the local people, and talk to them. The way I saw it, he had the dream job, so it was hard on me, as well as many other people, when this man I saw as someone living his truth, living his best life, took that life from himself.
As so many elements of my life have been stripped away, I’ve been feeling incredibly vulnerable, as if someone removed all of the doors to my house, and I am unable to keep the wind or strange creatures from wandering right in. I find myself feeling incredibly existential. I’ve been going to work each day to a pulmonary clinic with very few patients. As I walked down the hall today, I began to have tunnel vision and found myself wondering if I exist at all. I went to the grocery store to get lunch and the few people there seemed like set pieces, like extras on the set, coached not to make eye contact.
This all is so incredibly lonely, and strange, and it has heavily reminded me that when I walk down an asphalt road, that road is an invention. That is something that someone decided should happen. Synthesis places on top of a patch of grass. The building I write this in wasn’t always here. Obviously, this all leads to the poetry.
As I’m figuring new things out about myself, one thing seems to be a key element of who I am; dark times might be difficult for me, as for anyone, but that is where I grow best. It is the void that makes me an optimist. It is hopelessness where the poetry comes around and acts as a vessel for me to travel through to tirelessly seek hope.
When people ask me on New Year’s Eve if I had a good year, I always tell them: I always either have a good year or an important year. I don’t know if things are good right now, but I definitely believe they are important.
I hope you all find optimism, hope and poetry in this strange time.
Brice Maiurro is a poet and storyteller in Denver, Colorado.