Here's To Those Who Suffer Voluntarily

 

Here's to those who suffer voluntarily,
who rise above the mean and merely momentary
pleasure that we feel sitting on a couch,
eating Cheetos, watching reruns of "The Brady Bunch";
 
those who exercise, walk fast (raising weights
with their arms in rhythm to their feet),
jog, or actually even run --
as long as there's no clear goal in mind,
no Olympic medal, no short-skirted cheerleaders
proffering kisses;
 
residents of Blakely, Georgia, and Moosejaw, Saskatchewan,
who steadfastly resist removal to California
and similar climes, knowing intuitively
that delight in perfect weather is born in sub-zero winters,
in summer's humid swelter;
 
those who do without air-conditioning,
using the money for a violin
or books or trips to the local swimming pool;
 
those who fast, mortify the flesh, --
or at least skip breakfast occasionally,
refusing to indulge every bodily whim,
letting them ripen, at least now and then,
into actual, robust hunger;
 
monks in solemn Kentucky silence,
some, I suppose, are misanthropes, here I speak of those
with a normal affection for chat and hubbub
who restrict themselves to a reverent silence,
speech being used only in extremity;
 
blood donors.

 

Hear Jerry/Lucius read this poem.    This poem is part of the Scraps of Faith collection of poems.

Keywords:  asceticism, monasticism, voluntary suffering, vow of silence, creature comforts