How To Live Inspired by Charles Harper Webb

Eat dessert or drink sugary coffee but don’t guilt yourself into working off those calories. 

Bake the cakes with your loving mom as the sunset spills its colors in the messy kitchen

but don't worry about the amount of sugar you consumed from licking your fingers. 

Be careless, don’t clean up the spilled flour until the decorating has been done. 

Tell her you love her even if she’s managed to burn three vanilla cakes into those that resemble dark chocolate cakes.


Wear the crop top that may show the rolls of love you have on your stomach.

The love for warm bread as it comes out of the oven

or melty cheese as it lays with grease on pizza. 

Stop changing your outfits to fit with the voice in your head that says

You must not consume any calories today because you reached your weeks limit last night.

Ignore the voice telling you to vomit your guilt into the bathroom toilet tonight,

listen to your tongue as it thanks you for the delightful treat it earned after talking out loud in class earlier today.

Find joy in the bright colors of the food around you and don’t be afraid to try something new. 


Color your hair the way you colored the driveway with chalk in third grade.

Invent a new rainbow where ocean blue is first, 

followed by grape medicine purple, 

cherry chapstick red, so sweet you make yourself sick,

sticky note yellow,

and finally, Tennessee Vols orange, your granddad’s who passed away last year favorite.


Ask your grandmother about your extended family, 

show the documented photos of your cousins from age one to age forty-one.

Love the people who have come and gone,

love the people who have loved and lost,

love and be loved by not only others but also yourself. 


Be kind to everyone even the lady who didn’t tip you at work last week

and the coworker that is always late. 

Remember where you came from, 

show respect to those who once helped you

and to those who once hurt you.  


Don’t hurt people who have wronged you. 

Do not seek revenge; it is not healthy for the soul or safe for the mind.

Being right is never more important than showing love.

Listen carefully to others beliefs and challenge your own at least once. 

Share your beliefs with a group who agrees and a group who disagrees. 

Be confident in your passions but be respectful. 

Pettiness is evil and will only take your mental health, leaving you lifeless at home. 


Take the long way home, with the windows down on a 40 degree winters night,

as long as the volume to the music is higher than the temperature outside.

Drive until you run out of gas. 

Drive into the mountains of North Carolina, 

to the deserts of Arizona, 

then back to the city of New York. 


Pack the red suitcase with the patches falling apart at the seams.

Fill it with swimsuits, pajamas, dresses, and business suits.

Never say yes to anxiety, you don’t know what you’ll pass up.

Never say no to defeat, you don’t know how you’ll grow.

Never say yes to depression, you don’t know where you’ll find your worth. 

Never say no to adventure, you don't know who you'll meet. 


Say yes to the date. 

Don't wonder if she is

masculine enough, 

smart enough, 

fit enough, 

for your friends or family to approve of. 

Be proud of who you are and seek approval from no one 

other than your own heart as he beats for you.


Make a life for yourself, 

Not for your parents or your siblings,

Not for your boyfriend or girlfriend, 

Not for your boss or coworkers,

But for you, your mind, your heart, and your soul.


Listen to the songs the birds perform for you as you walk out on a sunny spring day, 

feel the rocks beneath your feet as you walk into the river on a sticky summer night, 

smell the autumn air in the night as you put out the campfire,

taste the cold as it fills your lungs in the dead of winter. 

Make this life your own and invest in the nature around you. 


This poem is about: 
My community
Our world
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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