LIKE DANNY RAND’S IRON FIST

Esteem is non-transferable
Maybe a life of ambition has netted accomplishments which are admired
And you’re proud of what you’ve amounted to,
Honors, awards, and achievements amassed and acquired in college
You list them in an early resumé but not in maturity,
Their merit fades like ability with age, fading skillsets
And the memory of what you once were, once could do is not the same
As the ability itself and proficiency, even if at one time
It was your own, was who you are, what you are, were
One can measure age by abilities one has lost
Maybe we have rested on our esteem too long,
Taking credit instead for actual ability

—Then there may be other considerations—

But respect from mastery of a discipline is a non-transferable asset
That status of my Harvard degree in religion and culture doesn’t translate
Onto the dance floor from the digital keyboard of my piano to listeners
It’s the actuality of tonal rhythm my technique must generate.
Into every new world an expansive soul is summoned because it is new
Esteem cannot be imported but must be earned afresh as Danny Rand
Fought the mythic dragon and earned by his own efforts The Iron Fist
Contending to master arts of new disciplines in answer to wisdom’s howl
The expansive soul’s ventures grow comfortable in unfamiliar realms
Didn’t Leonardo’s poetry, inventions, astronomy, and architecture color
The brushstrokes of the Mona Lisa?  And Newton wrote theology;
Bach taught Latin; Einstein played the violin; not cowering before
The daunting other, the ignominy of beginning, the risk of failed esteem
And my Kung Fu master was going to ask me to leave his studio
Because I wasn’t getting it.  Much later, he made me star in videos
He filmed for newcomers as promos at his New Year’s celebration
And another student and I were teaching assistants when we brought him
To Harvard phys-ed and packed the gym.  At the Chinese Cultural Center
One of the senior students watched me and made signs, as his English
Wasn’t good, imitating my awkward beginnings there and how I am now
The nobility of my experiences with behavior health sciences,
Contending with the fog of a mind touched with fire, sedated by meds
Swimming through barely functioning, losing excellences I once knew
Or my 26 years clean and sober and serenity’s radical recast of success
Now I awaken nude in incompetence, wishing for nobility to transfer
Into a world that never knew me before,
Who I was, what I was, what I could do
Only my performance in this iteration of identity

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