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STOIC POETRY | Sand or coal?

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

The opportunity to stay or to go. I say always go. Especially when we are young—always go. For the wonder of what we have left behind is like a dull lump of coal possessed against a moment's need of warmth should life turn cold and dark and possibly alone. We remain behind to not give up the little we already have, in turn for the guarantee of nothing should we leave; a bargain hardly equitable to a reasonable mind. So, I'll stay. And I will settle in. And I will remain with what I know—my lump of coal growing denser through acquisition, gaining substance by way of the gross accumulation of things: a house of our own, a safe marriage, 1.9 kids, the start of a career and the necessity to only once ever memorize our phone number.

I might go out Into life To see what there is And return in peace Or I might stay Seeking peace Wondering always What there is

Or I might depart. I say depart. Especially when we are young—always depart. For the wonder of what we find is like sand on a foreign beach. Worthless. Yet warm to our bare feet, and soft to the touch. Inviting of a long walk along a curious, foreign shore. And the finding of a soft place to sit and behold a strange sunrise, or sunset—or why not both in one day, or for a year, or longer still? Pick up a handful of the strange sand and look close. Such wonders of tiny stones. Worthless. Yet containing everything at once. Put the sand back down. And live for a while in this other place. Accumulate some other things: new ways, and fresh words, and strange and interesting times, some risk perhaps and maybe a scar.

And when your days are done, and your children come to clean out your things, will they wonder more at the lump of dense coal they find upon the mantle by the TV, or by the strange sand which spills from the old pair of sneakers you long ago left by the door before they were born?


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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