Resistance is Futile



How easily you

write of changing seasons,

and life grown from death.

Circle of Life

you pontificate

during Sunday service

in the cathedral

where summer genuflects,

and jewel weed

and wild grapes

stand at the Crossing.

Everything is flowing,

God whispers.

How foolish are you to resist?


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Words and Photo: ©2015, Jen Payne

Am I good for you?


I had a chance to watch Jack Goes Boating this week – a fascinating portrayal of how people respond, react, and transform within relationships.

The movie follows two couples. Clyde and Lucy are a seasoned, unhappily married couple whose relationship spirals downward in the course of the film. They have affairs, talk disrespectfully to each other, cling to addictions, and otherwise behave selfishly and without regard for the other.

We meet Jack and Connie at the beginning of their relationship — from their first date in winter through the following summer. In contrast to their friends, Jack and Connie blossom, individually and as a couple. We watch as they let go of patterns that have kept them stuck and solemn, and we witness them embracing the challenges of being in an intimate relationship, supporting and encouraging and loving each other.

The title of the movie relates to the film’s catalyst: that Jack must learn to swim before he can grant Connie’s wish to go boating in Central Park.

In the final scene of the movie, Jack and Connie are talking:

JACK: I’m a good swimmer.

CONNIE: I knew you would be. When we talked about summer. You’d be good at swimming.

JACK: I am for you.

CONNIE: Good at boating.

JACK: I am for you.

CONNIE: That you’d be good.

JACK: I am for you.

Jack is saying “I am good for you,” and we immediately think he means he’s “the one.” He’s good for her. He enhances her life. But it struck me that what he is really saying is that he is good for her, because of her – he behaves in a good manner for her.

As their relationship grows, we watch as Jack works hard to improve himself. He applies for a new job, buys a new suit, learns to cook, learns to swim. Unlike their friends, Clyde and Lucy, Jack chooses to step up, be better, take responsibility.

It all made me think — am I good for you?

Not just you the boyfriend or you the best friend or you the nephew, but you my relationships, and you my community. Am I good for you? Por vous? Do I do my best to behave in a good manner, treat you with kindness and respect, improve myself so collectively WE are better?

Am I good for you?

Think about it.

WORDS ©2015, Jen Payne
IMAGE Earth, Jean-Michel Basquiat

Dad, Guess What!

On the 20th Anniversary of Your Death

I can almost hear the sound of the mailbox,
feel the gravel driveway beneath my feet
as I raced inside to call you.

“I got accepted to…” I squealed,
so excited to share the little successes
as they arrived 30 years ago,
before college, graduation, the accident.

There would have been hundreds more, Dad.
The headlines and the heartbreaks.

The business, a Company of the Year,
now 22 years, can you imagine?
The new house — my own.
The trip to France at 40.
The first published poem. The book!
Dad, I wrote a book last year…
and fell in love!

I’m pretty sure I would have called you,
that very first day, “Dad, I met…”
and told you everything, like I always do —
only quietly now, as words on paper,
and moonlight whispers.

©2015, Jen Payne

6 Years? You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!


The first therapist I worked with loved to torment me with moments of silence. I say torment because, for many of us, sitting with that kind of Nothingness is difficult. We immediately want to fill Nothingness up—with Busyness or Somethingness or Stuffness.

We like to fill Nothingness up with cookies! Cookies or cigarettes, alcohol, television, shopping, technology. All of those immediate-gratification things that scratch the itch just enough to let us forget. Or ignore. Or escape.

And if we don’t? GASP! If we don’t forget or ignore or escape, we have to actually face what’s inside the Nothingness, like Hurt, Sadness, Loss, Anxiety, Inadequacy, Fear, Loneliness. You know, all of those uncomfortable things we’d rather hide away than face head on.

I suppose that’s what my therapist was trying to teach me all those years ago—how to sit comfortably with that Nothingness, with that silence that makes all of the painful things louder. How else could I start to tell her about them if I didn’t know them myself? How else could I heal?

I didn’t totally understand that until SIX YEARS ago today, when I put down my last cigarette and had to sit quietly with my own painful things; when I couldn’t hide behind that cloud of smoke anymore, and had to meet my monsters face-to-face.

And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Face-to-face every day for the past 2,190 days. 2,190 days and counting, because there is no quid pro quo about this process. The monsters don’t disappear just because you find the courage to let go of the placebo—nor does the discomfort.

Being in the moment with those monsters is still difficult—life is difficult—but as you go along, you gain muscle memory. The more you hang out with the monsters in that fully-present kind of way, the stronger you get, and you figure out new ways to deal with those painful things that don’t involve causing yourself more pain in the process.

Sure, sometimes, you just go buy cookies…but others times you take a nice long look back and realize “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby.”

Lots of love and gratitude to the folks who were there on Day One, holding me in their hearts as I started on this journey. I, quite literally, owe you my life.