Everyone in a stressful work situation needs a way to cope with pressure. I use poetry as my release. Writing poetry inspires and relaxes me. I have been writing poems ever since as a young teenager I read the verses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Carl Sandburg. Speaking of writing, I have written one book, and Ive been working on two others, one of which is a collection of my own poetry. Ive also written a play that was never performed, some short stories, some song lyrics, lots of promotion copy, countless speeches, and zillions of articles. But writing poetry remains my security blanket. Remember, I said I write poetry. I didnt say it was good poetry. But it pleases me. It allows me to confront lifes issues and how I feel about them in a unique and effective way. Those of you who have known the joy of writing in rhyming lines with clearly marked rhythms know what Im talking about. And when I cant find rhymes to fit my reason, I write blank verse. Poems, like prayers, can be music to ones soul or comfort for ones pain. Poetry records the happiest and saddest moments in life. About six years ago, following a hectic business year during a devastating media recession, I wrote a poem that helped put things in perspective. Lifes True BeautyIn my song I tried to capture the splendor of a summer sunset, but missed its glory by a single note. In my poem, I tried to capture the aimless journey of an autumn leaf wafted by a November wind, but I missed its gracefulness by a single word. On my canvas, I tried to capture the stark whiteness of a January snowbank in Vermont, but I missed its beauty by a single stroke. In my soul, I tried to capture the hope in a spring morning bursting with the suns light and alive with the sweet sounds of a robin welcoming the day, but I missed the euphoria by a single moment. In my time on earth I have tried to capture lifes beauty. I pursued it like a moth drawn by the lure of a candles light -- only to fail by one note, one word, one stroke, and one moment. Then I discovered, as I approach the end, that lifes beauty lies not in its capture, but in its pursuit.
Perhaps my poem will help you feel less lonely at the top, less critical of yourself when your great ideas sputter unexpectedly. Let me be the first to admit that my poetic skills will never challenge Edna St. Vincent Millay or Rudyard Kipling. But thats my point -- they dont have to. A poem helps you understand something important in your life. Its like talking to yourself in rhyme. I wrote "Lifes True Beauty" because I was emotionally spent and needed to reassure myself that, although I am not perfect, I have value. It helped me understand myself after a difficult and trying experience. The fact that my poem may help you to understand yourself is a gratuitous and unexpected bonus. My
poems are my
prayers. And they have absolute meaning for me alone. Some of you will question why I chose poetry as a subject of this column. Some would suggest that I should confine my column to subjects that concern management techniques, problems, and solutions. I dont agree. I see my charge as providing ideas that will help you do your jobs better. Feeling good about yourself is important to doing a good job. Its part of your psyche and your success. Poetry, like prayer, can help you determine who you really are instead of who you believe you are. It allows you to talk to yourself without being accused of being insane. When day has turned to darkness covering the night Like veils of sensuous beauty promising delight, Im often taut and testy, my nights devoid of ease. Thats when I craft my poems like soothing melodies, With God-like power to quiet my deepening despair. Like blessed benedictions following fervent prayer!
Amen. Sal F. Marino is chairman emeritus of Penton Media Inc. and an IW contributing editor. His e-mail address is [email protected]