Ode to My Career Counselor by Andy Raskin

Through the wood gate
into a garden of plums and oranges
the brick walkway to the cottage

I arrived the first time,
cut down by severance back-and-forth
once the tree's trunk, now its pruned limb

You offered tea from
a straw basket of tea boxes
balm for the battle-weary

OMG your office wasn't just near Berkeley
it was Berkeley
crystals, inscribed stones, the whole deal

So many questions.
my family? my childhood?
my love life?

Meanwhile you jotted, scribbled,
and connected your jots and scribbles
then your legal pad reveal: A map

Of the patterns in my life
of the choices
The map that transformed

Shame into pride
failures into steps
along a path

and you were laughing
except when you were sad
about my shame that remained

You asked "What do you really want to do?"

Cooking I almost said (but didn't because I once sat in on classes at that cooking school once and they were studying tray carrying I was like I can't go to school for tray carrying even though I know that would be a minor part of it)

"I want to be a better writer"

You handed me a card, like a passkey to a secret club,
and told me to call the person
which led to something which led to something which something.

Then I was a stranger to the cottage for years
I thought I needed someone
versed in the new things people talk about

what I need was you to laugh and say:
Do the thing you want to do that sounds
like fun and where your patterns have been leading you always

To give me permission to try
and to offer me a choice
of teas from the straw basket



The Facts of Life by Padraig Ó Tuama

That you were born
and you will die.

That you will sometimes love enough
and sometimes not.

That you will lie
if only to yourself.

That you will get tired.

That you will learn most from the situations you did not choose.

That there will be some things that move you more than you can say.

That you will live
that you must be loved.

That you will avoid questions most urgently in need of your attention.

That you began as the fusion of a sperm and an egg of two people who once were strangers and may well still be.

That life isn’t fair.
That life is sometimes good
and sometimes better than good.

That life is often not so good.

That life is real
and if you can survive it, well,
survive it well
with love
and art
and meaning given
where meaning’s scarce.

That you will learn to live with regret.
That you will learn to live with respect.

That the structures that constrict you
may not be permanently constraining.

That you will probably be okay.

That you must accept change
before you die
but you will die anyway.

So you might as well live
and you might as well love.
You might as well love.
You might as well love.


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