meditation on stimulus and response

Lora, who always talks me through the difficulties of interacting with other humans, gave me this quote by psychiatrist Viktor Frankl: “Between every stimulus and response there is a space and in that space is a choice.” Thank goodness for personal agency and decision making.

She has also mused me into the Dickinson-esque use of the hyphen, which is present in the following poem; it relates to my constantly firing mind and my (in)ability to deal with my body in the space-people continuum.


the space between bodies —
stimulus & response
one I have worked for years
to learn

when aerial words seem to
morph into tangible objects —
ones that must be deflected
with shields — the look on one’s face

when feeling is supposed to be
first — yet — the short distance between
your skin and mine cannot solve
every equation, every misstep

when time provides chances to mull —
response to humans and their actions,
it is still not enough for peace in
mind. peace is ever evolving, coming & going

I find space’s waters troubling,
mapless, navigation which needs knowledge I don’t yet harbor.
But, as days pass, the soul sleeps,
and rises — to continue again.