Autobiography in Five Chapters

This poem just came to my attention. It’s a lovely story about learning from past mistakes, recognising and avoiding them.

CHAPTER 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

CHAPTER 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

CHAPTER 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

CHAPTER 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.

CHAPTER 5
I walk down another street.

Sogyal Rinpoche
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

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2 comments on “Autobiography in Five Chapters

  1. Why not walk around it or take a different street after the first time? Why repeat the same mistake multiple times before deciding to take action to make a change? Why be so repetitive of the same actions? Why does the writer feel hopeless for most of his or her life before realizing by taking a different street or walking around the hole he or she could make some change and be a happier person?

    I don’t care for the structure of the poem. I think it’s too pretentious for the meaning of the story. I also don’t like the repetitive wording. The writer could have done better.

    And now I’ll shut up. (Yes. This was me being intellectual and shit.)

  2. I got the impression it might have been written by a young child originally, and Sogyal Rinpoche merely chose it for inclusion in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. That could be wrong, but if it’s true, i think it’s a very good poem.

    I any case, i think it’s an instructive poem, and seems to reflect the way my life tends to work (ie i don’t learn immediately, it takes a few times repeating the mistake before i decide i’ve had enough of this particular mistake).

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