Potential is a Lie

I don’t believe in “potential”:

+ artistic potential

+ athletic potential

+ redemptive potential

Though the word  speaks promise and hope, it can also freeze and feed damaging pride.

Countless children (and adults) are blessed with potential…

… Few realize it.

Because let’s face it: “realizing” potential means:

+ risk

+ hard work

+ discipline

And few of us want to go down that road.

“Potential” keeps things in dreamland, where we are free to conjure images of “What I could’ve been.”

“Potential” keeps us from confronting reality:

…. That maybe we’re lazy and undisciplined.

…. That maybe we’re not the best, and need to learn from someone else.

…. That maybe we are in desparate need of editing and revision

…. That maybe “the artistic life” is NOT a matter of receiving a sprinkling of the magic pixie dust, but is in FACT a matter of waking up at 4:30am to write poetry before the children wake up (see Sylvia Plath)

But this, in fact, is where REALITY lies. This is where the BLESSING resides.

If you live inside of “potential” what begins to happen is that you begin to believe your own hype:

– I’m the best

– I could’ve been “full-time”

– I could’ve written that record

– I am owed respect

While “the artists” are waking up early and submitting themselves to discipline, while they are humbly sitting before their craft and confessing the terrifying unknowing of “how-to-make-it-better”,




…. You can flip that burger for table #2.

Potential is a lie. Realization is the truth. “Done” is the land of destiny.


Poem, 13 Jan

I greet the morning with a kiss —
Not of Judas,
But eventual faithlessness.

My open face is
A temporary vestige,
Until the shadow flits across
On another darkness.

But for now…

For now

… Breathe deep.

Advent Poem

Pause and reflect —
One moment only,
In the torrid  burning of our time,
And consider this:

We are not the lists we keep,
– Gifts to buy,
– Things to do,
– Things we’ve won,
– Loves we’ve lost,
–  Even the things we’ve done.

No, none of these will do —
We are babes, merely in waiting
For something to be formed,
For love-to-come
In the Advent of us all.