the art of disappearing

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone is telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

  • Naomi Shihab Nye, “The Art of Disappearing” 

This poem has always meant something different to me at different points in my life. The art of disappearing, for me right now, is not disappearing at all. It is, if anything, being the most aware of myself and my time than I have ever been in my life. I used to appear to the world in the mask of perfection, while the true me disappeared slowly into the background. I am now reclaiming my presence. I have chosen to disappear away from the constructed stages and painted faces. I will reappear at my will, to the stages that celebrate me with applause, to the symposiums of scholars where I am welcome to sit and feast on their knowledge. The history of man has always mistaken death for disappearance. It is merely the transfer to another world. Time is limited. I do not know where I will be blown off to with the next gust of wind. The time to decide is now. Reclaim your time, reclaim your presence.

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