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BAS Poetry: ‘The Mountain of Should’ by Brady Gill

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Broke-Ass Stuart is now accepting poetry submissions to be featured in the BAS Poetry: Arts & Culture column. Written & curated by Corinne Avganim.

Flipping Off Mt. Rushmore

Photo credit: wonkette.com

Sometimes, as a freelancer, I would go through waves of feeling inspired and waves of…not so much. When you work alone 90% of the time, most of the inspiration you come by comes through some sort of digital lens. Human contact and the inspiration drawn from it is something you have to proactively search out.

I found that human connection, and endless inspiration at Creative Mornings/San Francisco. I first heard about it while working in Oakland since there’s also an Oakland chapter. It’s dope. Once a month, a bunch of people get together in some cool venue for free breakfast, lots and lots of coffee and a short but inspiring talk. Each month there’s a new theme that 182 cities from around the world form an event around. It was exactly what I needed to see beyond myself, creatively.

A lot of the times the themes can lead to pretty heavy and heady conversations, but this last talk’s theme was “games.” Fittingly, instead of a Powerpoint presentation, the speaker recited an original poem. It’s super Dr. Seuss-y, but with a very now vibe.

THE MOUNTAIN OF SHOULD

Brady Gill
San Francisco, California

I left on my quest to the Mountain of Should
‘Cause I should
I just thought that I should
And I should

Many had journeyed, all said it’s the way
Seemed foolish to question and hard to escape
This feeling I had, like a debt to be paid
Of course I had doubts, but I kept them at bay
By telling the world that, “Today is the day!
I will climb the Mountain of Should
‘Cause I should
Everyone says I should
And I should”

You shouldn’t go, unless you’re prepared
One friend said to me, There’s danger out there
I don’t mean to scare you, but you should be scared
‘Cause you should
‘Cause I am
And you should

I tried to get ready but needed a lot
So many things to learned and be bought
All sorts of supplies and provisions to make
And books to be read and courses to take
And facts to be known for knowledge’s sake
No room for error, no room for mistakes
And even then I still felt like a fake

I’ll never be ready so why should I care!

But the shopkeeper there just grimaced and stared
“Don’t act so abused, it’s called paying your dues
This is fair, this is fair, and just like the rest
You should care”
So I cared

I cared because I was scared
And I should
I thought I should care
And I should

So off I went with my pack full of stuff
Which felt like too much and I hoped was enough
There was one way to go and that way was up
On the Mountain of Should the path could be rough
And that was OK ‘cause it all should be tough

It should be hard
It shouldn’t be easy
Your body should ache and your stomach feel queasy

And that’s how I felt going up every day
For months, for years, I traveled this way

‘Cause I should
‘Cause I knew that’s the way it should feel
And it should
And I should
And it should
And it should
And I should
And it should
And I should

“Where are you going?”A monk said to me
Me trudging higher, her shooting the breeze

“I’m climbing the Mountain of Should
Can’t you see?
That I should
And I should
And I should”

“But why are you climbing?
Where will you go?
What will you find?
When will you know?
What will you gain from reaching the top
Of a mountain which frankly just doesn’t stop?
When will you stop?
When will you see?
When will you pause?
When will you breathe?”

“Not now you old fool
There’s no stopping me!
There’s no truth in your words
You’re just jealous I see
‘Cause you can’t
But you should
And I should”

Higher and higher I pressed to the top
To the top of the mountain that never would stop

Each day I came closer to the summit I craved
But each time I looked it seemed farther away

So harder each day I pushed myself more
Though every step felt like a chore
Though every morning I woke up with dread
And each night was filled with strange thoughts in my head

The higher I went
The more tired and spent
I would feel
From my head, right down to my heals
So tired I couldn’t quite tell what was real

For sitting one day, resting my feet
I thought to myself, when will I be complete?

And then came a thought I found quite defeating
Do I even know what it is that I’m seeking?

I climb ‘cause I should, but where am I going?
And is that place worth the weight that I’m towing?

It was then that the old monks words spoke to me
It was then that I stopped
I paused
And I breathed
And just like that I was able to see

Hundreds of mountains
Thousands of peaks
Millions of “Shoulds” that everyone seeks
All of us climbing, our goal to ascend
Missing each moment to get to the end

And when will it end?
Where are we going?
What is this truth that we all should be knowing?
What are these shoulds that we’re told
That we feel
How can something that’s not real feel so real?

What if they’re nothing, in our heads, just a voice?
What if they’re wrong, and we all have a choice?

With my shoulds all released, I found with relief
My need to climb higher was just a belief
And if I chose to stop then I could
Not I should
I decided to stop and I could

And as soon as I stopped I was delighted to find
The distance I’d traveled was all in my mind

The crumbled Should Mountain was nowhere in sight
Now hundreds of paths, each one of them right

Each with their losses
Each with their wins
Each was a story that I could begin

And without all these shoulds
I felt good
I feel good
I’m choosing my path and I’m good
*

Flipping Off Mt. Rushmore

Photo credit: wonkette.com

Want to see Brady’s poem come to life? Apparently enough people do that it warranted a KickstarterStay tuned here for more, or follow us via @brokeassstuart and the hashtag #poetryisvoice.

To submit a poem, email poetry@brokeassstuart.com with your 100% original piece of work, full name, age, city, links to social media, and (optional) biographical blurb.

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corinne avganim - baspoetry curator

corinne avganim - baspoetry curator

BAS Poetry was introduced by Corinne Avganim to lend a platform for unheard artists to share their voices. Submit your 100% original poem to baspoetry@brokeassstuart.com.