Autobiography in Five Chapters – A Poem

Autobiography in Five Chapters – A Poem
The poem that brings me home to myself...

Often when I am in a funk, some internal conflict or a gnawing complaint about the world, I have the awareness to recognise that I’m not in contact with my truest self. The true self that cannot be effected by the ebb and flow of my material life. The part of me that is always okay. It’s a deeper knowing that even in what appear to be imperfections in this human condition that there is nothing ‘wrong’. It’s just life and the whir of the human condition inevitably playing out. In a purist expression, I am Love. When I am not feeling that love, there’s a benevolent invitation to address the loss of connection, an open invitation back to my truest self.

There are times when my mind is exacerbating the suffering by trying to work it all out, fix it or philosophise my way out of it. I know there’s no real release through my mind. So full of strategies, all well-meaning, and all quick fix Band-Aid solutions.

One of the ways I reflect is turning to an expression or voice for empathy and resonance. It helps me feel not so alone in the illusion of separation. That there is a way through … not out.

Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in Five Chapters always makes me smile and shines a beautiful light on the power of my choices and taking responsibility for the whole of my life. Realigning me with my longing to come home, to come home to the truth of who I am.

Autobiography in Five Chapters

ONE

I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in
I am lost … I am hopeless
It isn’t my fault
It takes forever to find a way out

TWO

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again
I can’t believe I’m in the same place
But it isn’t my fault
It still takes a long time to get out

THREE

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there
I still fall in … it’s a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault
I get out immediately

FOUR

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it

FIVE

I walk down another street

by Portia Nelson

~

We’d love to hear your resonance with this poem and how you were moved by it. And we’d love you to share any poems that have supported you back to the awareness of your true self. Any pieces that you keep coming back to. Feel free to share in the comments.

LOVE,

Team UPLIFT

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
40 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tyler Dawn
Tyler Dawn
1 year ago

This is a poem that is shared quite often in the Recovery world. It is indeed a wonderful reminder that when we want different results, we have to make different choices! Thanks for sharing

Marie-Elise
Marie-Elise
1 year ago

I heard this poem in a workshop 20 years ago and use it in class settings myself. Very profound and still as potent as the first time I cam into contact with it.

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

This poem is also in James Hollis book Called “Middle Baggage”…I highly recommend it.

Helen
Helen
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol

I was given this poem by a friend many years ago and have shared it with many at workshops I have presented
It’s a wonderful piece that is very profound and helps people realise they are responsible for their own actions in Life

Keith R. Maddock
Keith R. Maddock
1 year ago

A hand reaches out to me. To pull me out? To lead me through? I grasp the hand unknowing. Yet the contact thrills me to the bone.

Ellen Swanson
Ellen Swanson
1 year ago

Whirling Moment (by Ellen Swanson)

Once upon a time, long long ago,
For a fleeting moment
I knew.

I knew for a fleeting moment,
That creating was sacred –
A Process.

I knew for a fleeting moment,
That my body was a privilege
Not a commodity.

I knew
For a fleeting moment
the Divinity of the Feminine…
Whirling humanity back to Source.

I glimpsed
For a fleeting moment,
The consciousness of an ascending Union…
Whirling humanity back to Source.

I fathomed the depth
I soared to the height
In that fleeting moment.

Then – Along came “Jones”.
Big walking, big talking
Jones.
The Jones of my father and forefathers
Burned
The bones of my mother and foremothers
Whirling humanity away
Away from the depth
Away from the height
Away from the sanctity of the Union.

Oh grief! Through you
The lost has been found.

Oh tears! Through you
The tainted has been cleansed.

O anger! Through you
The external has been purged.

Oh persistence! Through you
The internal has been recognized.

Oh Love! Through you
The Eternal has been born.

Again

Whirling humanity back to Source.
Whirling humanity back to Source.

Briony Dalton
Admin
Briony Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen Swanson

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem Ellen. We are now open for Community Contributions; if you feel inspired to share this with the wider UPLIFT community to be part of spreading Unity, Peace, and Love throughout the world, please check out our Community Contributions Guidelines for how to submit. Blessings 🙂

https://uplift-help.groovehq.com/help/community-contributions-guidelines

Esperanza Diosdado
Esperanza Diosdado
1 year ago

My immediate resolution to the problem was “walk around it” I continued to read, what a wake up message. THANK YOU

Patrick S. Kennedy
Patrick S. Kennedy
1 year ago

“If nothing changes nothing changes”. I recently realized the emotional pit I have been in was of my own making. My own “fault”. It is up to me to walk around it. To take a different path.

Adrienne
Adrienne
1 year ago

I Am Not I (Juan Ramon Jiminez)

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die.

Hazel
Hazel
1 year ago

What a beautiful description of reincarnation!

Shipra Singh
Shipra Singh
1 year ago

Wow! It feels like my life! At present, I am in the fourth phase of the autobiography stated here – walking on the same street, but this time, being cautious of the hole and walking around it. But, I need to change the street though! What an irony! I know I need to change the street, yet I am walking the same one. Not for long. Will change. Thank you for this hard-hitting eye-opener. Bless you.

Saran.
Saran.
1 year ago

I smiled after this poem. And I copied it into my daily texts. One poem out of these:
„If U R depressed,
U R living in the past.
If U R anxious,
U R living in the future.
If U R at Peace,
U R living in the presence.”
Lao Tzu.

Marietta Latonio
Marietta Latonio
1 year ago
Reply to  Saran.

very reflective of how to go about life

Briony Dalton
Admin
Briony Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Saran.

Lovely! Thank you for sharing Saran 🙂

Matthias Köhler
Matthias Köhler
1 year ago

Hi wonderful beings, Thank you so much for all the inspiration 🙂

I can share a poem on connectedness and intuition that I wrote. Enjoy 🙂

= The Inner Voice =

I know exactly what to do
And what next step to take.
An Inner Light is shining through,
When I’m fully Awake.

This means I need to be at ease
To hear that inner call,
To take a break and calmly breathe,
And to slow down at all.

That Silence I appreciate
And happily connect
To the Big Source, which can relate,
What I grasp and detect.

It may appear risky to trust,
But when you know the Sound
All doubt can vanish into dust
And Good Things can be found.

Matthias the Happy Poet (der Frohpoet), 2018.

Briony Dalton
Admin
Briony Dalton
1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your poem Matthias. We are now open for Community Contributions; if you feel inspired to share this with the wider UPLIFT community to be part of spreading Unity, Peace, and Love throughout the world, please check out our Community Contributions Guidelines for how to submit. Blessings

https://uplift-help.groovehq.com/help/community-contributions-guidelines

Eva Novak
Eva Novak
1 year ago

Hello,

thank you for for the thoughtful article. I agree in finding your true inner self. Each and every day. Thinking, acting, and feeling out of Who I Am It is a task, and a joyful one, if I choose it to be so 🙂

Still, one thing that I like to add about the authorship of the Poem:

I don’t know Mrs Nelson, but I do know that this “Autobiography” was inspired by The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche in 1992. It is a presentation of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead or Bardo Thodol. I am not a Buddhist nor do I belong to any religion or other spiritual group. Yet I like to see a way of respecting the origin of texts, music, art, whatever…….”Oh this cake tastes great!” “Yes, isn’t it – It is a recipe of my Grandmother – and she was such a good cook….and such a lovely inspiring person…..!” I really hope you get my point 🙂

cordially,
Eva

Stacey Mandel
Stacey Mandel
1 year ago

I learned of this poem from Amy Saltzman, my mentor, and creator of The Still Quite Place which is an MBSR-based curriculum for children and teens. This poem is offered as part of a lesson and then referred back to in various ways. I enjoy giving a copy to kids to keep in their mindful toolkits.

SallySarah
SallySarah
1 year ago

Thank you to everyone sharing. I have enjoyed all.
The poem is a beautiful metaphor for life. I will use it in my coaching/teaching business.

isaac_Techno
isaac_Techno
1 year ago

Hello to all, it’s genuinely a good for me to pay a uick visit
this web site, it contains pricless Information.

Marietta Latonio
Marietta Latonio
1 year ago

I am so moved with the poem though I readily said to myself after the 2nd chapter, why is she not avoiding the hole, she must be stubborn and not learning.

I realized that I was so judgmental but reflection on it, the person walking down the street was ME!

Thank you Portia Nelson.

Kitty Hartford
Kitty Hartford
1 year ago

This poem has been hanging on my wall for so long that sometimes, like a crack in the ceiling, I don’t notice it. Today I needed to see it.

Virginia Warren
Virginia Warren
1 year ago

FOUR

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I look into it’s darkness
and find light

FIVE

I love this street

Vicky
Vicky
1 year ago

i can really relate to that poem….i will share one of my poems now….hope it hits home for someone

#200 3/15/19 THERE ONCE WAS A GIRL

There Once Was A Girl

There once was a girl, her name was Vicky Lynne
She was lonely and frightened, she was paying for her sins

She didn’t understand that it wasn’t about her
It was about many things in the past, most of them a blur

Sometimes in this life we pay the price for someone else’s deeds
Things have away of repeating themselves from previously planted seeds

The past comes back to haunt us, in a myriad of ways
The past effects our future, it helps to write our days

I didn’t have the power then to stand up for myself
I had to deal with what came my way or hide it from myself

Denial is a way to cope
Sometimes it is your only hope

I’m older now and I see things I didn’t see before
I am lucky and I will do better, I long for something more

Bodhivata Dharmashanti
Bodhivata Dharmashanti
1 year ago

The simplicity and repetition of the setup I find very Zen, one of those that every time you read you find a new layer of meaning, no wonder she keeps going back to it.
Following is something I wish to share with everybody and of course comments are welcome.

— WHAT IS —
by Bodhivata Dharmashanti
written in Brooklyn on the 14th day of February of the year 2016

When you look at it
it’s white, black or yellow,
short, tall, skinny or fat,
young or old.

At times it’s under the ground,
just a little thing.
Then it opens up in beautiful colors
to give our eyes life.

It can grow very tall
trying to reach the heaven
and hug our planet.

When you are hot
it gives you shade.
It flows too
from high to low.

Rushing to the ocean,
or trickling in the backyard
to quench your thirst,
feed your hunger.

It always shines
to allow life unfold.

It rests to give her a chance
to illuminate the night.

I have seen it sing,
or run fast,
at times going with the flow
or crawl, or stand still.

When I look up
I see it painted in many shapes
always changing,
never resting,
galloping the wind.

People call it many names
depending on their flag colors

but

when I wipe my mind clear,
only one thought remains.

Love is great.

Briony Dalton
Admin
Briony Dalton
1 year ago

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem Bodhivata. We are now open for Community Contributions; if you feel inspired to share this with the wider UPLIFT community to be part of spreading Unity, Peace, and Love throughout the world, please check out our Community Contributions Guidelines for how to submit. Blessings

https://uplift-help.groovehq.com/help/community-contributions-guidelines

Natali
Natali
1 year ago

Dear Friends!

I love this poem which I read first quite a while ago. It is so true and wonderful!

I love feeling the truth in words, I love learning (and teaching) by poetry. It is a kind of free offer to take out of it what you like or can “digest”.

My mum writes wonderful poetry (inspired by the water) and there could be a great deal to share with the uplift team and readers. Would you be interested?

If yes, let me know and I’ll choose 1 or 2 poems and send them to you to publish.

Lots of Love,
Natali

Ross from UPLIFT
Admin
Ross from UPLIFT
1 year ago
Reply to  Natali

Dear Natali, we are more than happy for people to submit poems to us. Simply just send these through to [email protected] for the team to review.

Have beautiful day 🙂

Sel Kerans
Sel Kerans
1 year ago

Hours, days, months; years have wrapped around
Gathered me in like a comfy and familiar overcoat
Intent to warm me against the chill of growing old
Something so eventually known by every one of us
With at best, quiet reluctance or a great resistance
Such is the nature of being that we all know so well

Like interwoven threads that make up layers here
Soft-strata-like days to years, cloak and entwine so
All I know, carry forward, to the future of my days
For my time here, in some ways, feeling so filled up
Although some days I feel I have very little to show
There is so much I’ve grown to know from the years

And as yet, I’m only part way through my journeying
Sometimes struggling, other days, flying so very high
Leaving random notes on the wall of this life so lived
I’ve been giving all I can and then maybe some more
Sometimes, I know like never before, by weight of it
And I begin to feel a reach of personal limit at times

Onward then, with the new challenge that presents
It appears there are some things we cannot control
Like health conditions that afflict a small percentage
Here now, to hamper my journey, impede the layers
Make this overcoat less comfortable to wear along
It’s time to be strong like never before now, I know

I will drive roads to their ultimate, as once promised
Despite the hampering of the wheels on line and tar
I feel to have burned too brightly, perhaps, by years
Like a match that’s quickly spent, needs another one
Needs to be extinguished too before it burns a finger
Yet I would linger on sometime with a slower flame

I turn the page in experience and memory, reiterate
Unwrap the layers that comfort to look for reasoning
Feeling amid the warm reassurance, for that wrong
To cast out to air, for these things no longer serve me
I would release, renew myself and rejoice in who I am
One man who cares so for the world and for our time

Briony Dalton
Admin
Briony Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Sel Kerans

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem Sel. We are now open for Community Contributions; if you feel inspired to share this with the wider UPLIFT community to be part of spreading Unity, Peace, and Love throughout the world, please check out our Community Contributions Guidelines for how to submit. Blessings

https://uplift-help.groovehq.com/help/community-contributions-guidelines

Barbara Azzara
Barbara Azzara
1 year ago

I have in front of me Portia’s book: There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk which was written in 1993.
Portia and I became loving friends as we followed the teachings of Spirit. Her book, as is the poem, is the simpliest, clearest map to self-awareness. She referred to it as the “romance of self discovery.” Her song: This Life is another one of Portia’s gift. She was a wonderful actress, cabaret singer and friend.

Judy Smith
Judy Smith
1 year ago

For all the mundane things I do
Awareness beautifies the view

Trees and Flowers and Fields of green
A loving flowing endless stream

For the mundane things today
Awareness beautifies the way
-Mark Smith MD

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

excellent issues altogether, you simply gained a logo new reader.
What could you recommend about your put up that you just made some days ago?
Any certain?

Lucile
Lucile
1 year ago

Hi there very cool blog!! Man .. Beautiful ..
Superb .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?

I’m happy to seek out numerous helpful information right here within the submit,
we want work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for
sharing. . . . . .

UPLIFT
Editor
UPLIFT
1 year ago
Reply to  Lucile

Our pleasure Lucile, so happy you’re enjoying our content! 😀

Blessings,
Team UPLIFT

Gail
Gail
1 year ago

I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and
let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is
something too few people are speaking intelligently about.
I’m very happy I found this in my search for something regarding
this.

Najia
Najia
9 months ago

Beautiful portray of phases of growth, when gradually one acquires confidence and deals with the challenges of living. It reminded me of a proverb that was written in front of our college staircase; “whenever you fall, pick something up!”

When you have a sad moment in life, know that it is a lesson learnt!

UPLIFT
Editor
UPLIFT
9 months ago
Reply to  Najia

Beautifully put Najia, thank you so much for reading and sharing 🙂

Blessings,
Team UPLIFT

40
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Welcome to the new UPLIFT!

UPLIFT is evolving, and we are excited to present our revamped website, UPLIFT Love.

UPLIFT is a 501(3)(c) charitable foundation that supports inspiring love-in-action projects that are making a genuine difference.

Subscribe to UPLIFT's free Newsletter

Get our regular newsletter sharing the latest updates, articles, films and events.

How will my data be used?