April 29th, 2013


It looks like a two-year-old hoisting herself up between two bamboo stalks.
A four-year-old dressed like an elephant in a ballet recital,
crying on the way home, “I was the worst one.”
It looks like a five-year-old who can’t wipe the smile off her face.
Trying a cartwheel.
Falling down and liking it.
Getting a stamp, a sticker, a hug.
Getting better. Getting good.
Then, taking a break.
Shrugging it off.
“I’m just not into it right now.”
Being told, “You’re not strong enough.”
Thinking, “I’m not good enough.”
Holding a secret hope and then letting it die.
Joining the swim team.
Loving a horse.
Watching the Olympics.
Getting an autograph.
Progress looks like a new place, a new year, new friends, and a coach who says
“You can be on our team.”
Hours and hours. Night after night.
Being tired and sore and scared.
It looks like a sprained ankle. A stress fracture. A broken toe.
Six weeks wearing a boot.
It looks like quitting.
And then starting again. For the fun.
*That’s what progress looks like. Because there isn’t any such thing as progress.
There’s no curve, no line, no end. No graph or dots.
And never, ever, ever, is there a reason to compare.
A young girl, weary of the pressure to improve
“I already do things no one else even tries!”
and me, seeing all of it, the endless chase of it,
the ache and the letting go
glad to have a seat at the back of the house.


  1. A whole life in 23 seconds. Georgia!!

    Comment by Jena — April 30, 2013 @ 2:44 am

  2. If only we could see, if only they could see, if only we all could see every moment, every moment, every moment how full of perfection it all is.

    Comment by Connie Assadi — April 30, 2013 @ 8:14 am

  3. You always grab my heart and warm it up. Now I want to go find the albums and the pictures of my girls and sit a while…… Last year I fell,fractured a toe, wore the boot for 6 weeks,at 71 it’s been learning to walk all over again. I read your wise words “there’s never, ever, ever a reason to compare”,I walk a little easier……

    Comment by Daisy Marshall — April 30, 2013 @ 9:10 am

  4. Karen–How wonderful! A poem of real life rooted in the always changing present. Life growing up. No progress (emptiness?). A child, already enlightened. A mother sharing as much as she can. bodhisadva mother. How can we ever get back to where we were, eahc of us, as enlightened beings, as children?

    Comment by daniel — May 2, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  5. Wow. Powerful. We seem to get so set up in milestones when we have little ones that it seem hard to let go of the tracking of progress sometimes.

    We’d be honored if you submitted a piece to Great Moments in Parenting, an open blog where moms and dads share the agony and ecstasy of life with kids. We’re happy to link back to your website. Here’s the link to submit: Thanks for considering it!

    Comment by Nicole — October 21, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

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