Poetism Commentary: “master yourself”

After a brief hiatus from poetism commentary, I have returned.

The poem in question: master yourself

This poem is, not cryptically, about being in control of yourself and thinking before you act.

The bulk of my poem writing occurred during my late teenage years, and as a Mormon youth—specifically, as a male Mormon youth—I was constantly bombarded with messages about the importance of chastity.  We used to say, only half-jokingly, that it was impossible to have a church lesson for the boys without somehow making it about sexual immorality.  I suspect that is at the very least the oblique subject of the poem, i.e. resisting those “carnal desires”:

that’s what you’re taught to think you know
and there’s good reason maybe

I’m sure that the Book of Mormon’s Mosiah 3:19, a verse I swear I heard quoted every Sunday, was in my mind:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

The “natural man” is, of course, our inner lusty self.  Today, I like to think that it is not so limited in scope.  More broadly, I think that if you just do whatever you want without thought of whether you should do it, and with no regard for consequence, eventually your view of right and wrong is skewed to the point that right and wrong no longer exist for you, for all intents and purposes.

it might be just another thing
that occurs in your daily life
you’ll never know the difference
between happiness and strife

I also still find it true that you need to suppress your dark urges, though perhaps “suppress” is no longer the word, or action I would use.  I think more apt is acknowledgement that you aren’t perfect, but mature enough not to act on every whim that comes to mind.  I find that if you admit to yourself you have faults and accept it as a fact of life, while making efforts to improve, you’ll fare a lot better than by punishing yourself for being human.  This also helps to alleviate, or possibly even eliminate, the difficulty of “[maintaining] the mask / that everything’s cool under control.”  If you realize you are just a regular person doing your best, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

In typical teenage fashion, I evoked emphatically excessive imagery to convey my point:

let the darkness burn in fire

I’m really not sure what that even means, but now I’m imagining Sephiroth standing in the middle of the flames of Nibelheim.

My self of today is amused at my 17-year-old self, full of experience and wisdom:

I’ve traveled both roads you see
so I’m here to give opinion

This attitude definitely comes from the constant morality lessons, and the inevitability of not always being perfect, while thinking everyone else is.  Nearly 17 years later, I have finally realized that everyone has problems, and generally no one’s problems are so unique that they are alone in their suffering.  It can still feel lonely and overwhelming, though, and we seek validation of the fact that we are not alone, which is not always easy to find.

Finally, I cringe at the “maybe/baby” rhyming.  It’s humorous cringing, though.

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