Autobiography in Five Chapters – A Poem

Autobiography in Five Chapters – A Poem
The Power of the Written Word

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


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


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


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


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


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.



BY Paul C Pritchard
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1 year ago


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2 years 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!

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