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The ABCs of Advance and Retreat

Abecedarian- a paired poem of conflicting wisdoms

By Penny FullerPublished 4 months ago Updated 3 months ago 2 min read
The ABCs of Advance and Retreat
Photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash

(Part 1, The Wisdom of Advance)

Anxiety will whisper

Be safe, don't try.


Chanting its siren song of fear and acquiescent mediocrity.


Discomfort is a molten state

ever burning cities and building seamounts at once.


Flinging yourself into the fires of possibility (and staying put)

guarantees pain, but promises more.


Hackers seek shallow successes free of suffering, purpose or devotion.


Intentional grit and resilience offer

joy not through ease, but tiny increments of life-changing efforts.


Knowledge of what you stand to

lose through vulnerable hope and earnest toil cannot be found in advance.


Meaning must stand as a placeholder for marking gains amongst losses.


Nevertheless, the price of stagnation is passing on any

opportunities to leave dissatisfaction behind.


Perhaps is a hope-laden word that

questions what lies beyond sacrifice.


Responding with patient, mindful tasks that

shorten the distance between yourself and goals may be

terrifying with warnings full of fear-warped untruths. Yet-


Until you see the path beyond the pain, you cannot

verify the width or depth of distaste that you must

wade through to shift a reality. It is an inner leap to sign up, to mark

X in the yes box.


You'll be without a net, but the sum of change will not, cannot be



(Part two, The Wisdom of Retreat)

Zero-sum thinkers view

your successes only in terms of what they must lose; they see just a black

X on their status, for any

win must exact a cost.


Virtue in a world of coldly measured worth is

uncomfortably squishy- like water, it cannot hold a shape.


The world of unmet grievance finds

strength in the power of directed rage.


Reasoned compromise and understanding are

questionable, weakened positions from this mindset.


Perchance you find yourself treading water amongst sharks

or swimming in endless competitive circles,

note the exit signs that stretch both forward and back.


Movement forward does not travel in straight

lines- it curves, twists and drops backward.


Knowing when to step away is not

just quitting, it is finding the blind end of the maze and regrouping.


If sacrifice comes with no long-term promise of inner peace or isn't a

hasty bridge to float from one goal to the next, then what are you

giving up?


Find the part of yourself that lies wanting and neglected-

ease yourself away from places that poison or offer no comfort.


Drive without a soul is like fear without ambition- they

cannot help you in this incomplete form.


Being in forward motion through only inertia is still a prison of


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About the Creator

Penny Fuller

(Not my real name)- Other Labels include:

Lover of fiction writing and reading. Aspiring global nomad. Woman in science. Most at home in nature. Working my way to an unconventional life, story by story and poem by poem.

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  • Salomé Saffiri4 months ago

    the rhythm of your words swayed me, urging me to be more, to do more. very well done!

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