To Do Without

“Who are you?”
They ask, with that patronizing smile

That gleams with such promise.
“What do you want
To do in your life?
What do you want
To become?”

They ask that question
And they always expect the easy answer:
"I know what I want to become.
I want to be
A doctor, a lawyer,
An officer of the law,
A researcher, a scientist!"
Or, failing that, they'll expect nothing.
The same nothing that follows,
"I don't know."

They tell you that,
"It's okay. No one really knows
What they want to become."
And they look at you with that same patronizing look
That maybe you'll wise up,
Become a productive member of society.
Or, failing that, make your life a quiet one
So that its disappearance will be all the easier to dismiss.

What if I say,
"I don't know what I want."
But in truth, I would be lying,
Because I know exactly what I want,
But what I want isn't what you want
To hear.

It is the screaming inside of me that tells me,
"Tell them! Tell them all about what you want!
Tell them that you would dare shake the world with your ideas
If only they wouldn't stop you!"
But we know we don't live in a world like that.
We never did.

We grow up being told that we all have a power inside us,
That we have untold potential to follow our dreams
And become the unconventional.
They tell us that we are each of us a Superman,
But they never told us that we lived in a Kryptonite land.

I wish I could tell you exactly what I believe.
I wish I could say that I would rather be playing it by ear
Rather than be playing benchwarmer on the sides.

I wish I could reassure you with the words

That if you want to do what you want,

Then go out and get it.
But that's not the world we live in.

I am the voice that many stifle in the night.
When we silence that cry and dry those tears
For fear that others may find our weakness and say,
"How much of a pathetic loser can you be?”

And we have to put on that smile

Even though on the inside

We are a field of wheat that hasn’t seen the rain

But has seen more than too much sun.

When you ask me who I am,
What I aspire to become,
I must admit that I must lie.
Because I know the answers you want to hear,
The answers that the world expects from you.
Because the world doesn’t run on dreams,
No, it runs on the idea that everyone must play their part.
Some people must be the pavement that lines the road,
Some people must be gods.

So that question, again.
Who am I? What am I?
I am a number,
A face in the crowd.
I am the tear rolling down the cheek
Of that nurse or the fry cook who, once,
Dreamed of the unconventional,
Dreamed of the amazing!
To fly in the sky without being damned by those
Who stood below.
But the world doesn't run on dreams.
It never did.

This poem is about: 
Our world
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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