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by Pablo Neruda
He who becomes the slave of habit, who follows the same routes every day, who never changes pace, who does not risk and change the color of his clothes, who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly.
He or she who shuns passion, who prefers black on white, dotting ones “i’s” rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer, that turn a yawn into a smile, that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings, dies slowly.
He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy, who is unhappy at work, who does not risk certainty for uncertainty, to thus follow a dream, those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, die slowly.
He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly.
He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem, who does not allow himself to be helped, who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops, dies slowly.
He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know, he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know, die slowly.
Let’s try and avoid death in small doses, reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing. Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
The reason why I love this poem is because it serves as a reminder to me to step out of my shell and to be more adventurous with life and with the choices I make. It’s easy to get trapped in the routine of getting up and going to work and then coming home and watching tv. You keep doing the same thing day after day and pretty soon time flies by and you don’t know what has become of your life.
Last year I was at a crossroads in my life. I could continue to do the same things I was doing or I could change and chart a different path for myself and this poem has become my mantra on change. Little by little I’m setting a new course for my life and trying new things.
I understand why the author would mention travel, reading, and music as being aspects that a person should experience and I believe that myself. These activities open you mind to new ways of thought and perspective. I’d also add viewing art to this list as well because seeing the creativity of someone else can inspire you in your own work. It can also inspire you to think on a higher level and to be innovative.