13 August 2014


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Happiness was easier at age-five
days of discovery, when mistakes were
uh-ohs and retries rather than losses
and goodbyes, but—harder or not—we meet
often since I've questioned its absence.

When did mistakes become shameful?
When did pockets of sunshine turn into
cloudy items to perfect?  When did I
begin to notice scuffs on my saddle
shoes?  And when did they begin to pinch me?

Hmm?  You think too much!  My mother told me,
but what a pleasure it was to feel and
then to contemplate the sensation and
its before and after as if life was
a chess game I could play inside my head.

Chess was better than checkers and rummy
because there was more to ponder, like reading
a novel but with less certainty.  And
games returned with happiness—Scrabble this
time and writing novels I’d like to read.

Writing is harder but happier than
both thinking and chess, because here I play
with dolls again—characters I need not
bring physically to their tea parties in
diapers and dresses that need changing.

Happiness was easier at age five
but days of discovery are back with
uh-ohs and re-writes rather than losses
and goodbyes.  I am one of the lucky
ones, finding my younger self still alive.

Written for my own prompt

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast


Kathryn Dyche said...

when mistakes were uh-oh's . . . that made me smile. Next time I make a mistake I'm going to say that instead of cursing and beating myself up. Thanks for the reminder to embrace the discovery of our younger selves.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...life def seemed easier then, though i wonder if that is in the how our minds change the past....but it seems the worries were a lot less...life was carefree...and then something happened and we learned shame and such...i am glad we can make it back to that place...even if for just a bit at times....

Gen Giggles said...

Yes, the trick is to never grow up. Then you don't have to worry about finding your happiness it will come to you.

Sumana Roy said...

"......mistakes were / uh-ohs"...this is so sweet...and it's really wonderful to be in that place once again..and the last two lines are so true...

Mary said...

Ah, it is good to be able to keep alive that happiness felt at age 5. I like the idea about rewrites being possible & mistakes being greeted only with 'uh-oh's.' With writing nothing is impossible, and one can create the world that one wishes to find!

Gabriella said...

I enjoyed the progression of your poem, from childhood happiness to new discoveries. I also like how your closing stanza echoes the first one but with a difference.

Laurie Kolp said...

This is lovely, Susan. I hope never to lose sight in my childlike eyes.

Myrna R. said...

Nice. I like the self-forgiveness in this, the maturity as well as the willingness to stay young, make uh-ohs while discovering life.

Magaly Guerrero said...

"uh-ohs and re-writes rather than losses
and goodbyes."

Love the playfulness of these lines; their power and promise, too.

May all our "uh-ohs" turn into happy "Yays!"

alan1704 said...

Love this and the child that still is inside and the world still full of wonders.

avalon said...

There are no more unmixed pleasures once we are grown up. Gradual change or sudden one? Can't remember. Can you? And does it matter, as long as emotion is stirred one way or another?

Nicholas said...

Happiness was more better around 5 up until time to go to school for me. That was when I discovered I was just one of many 6 year olds prone to accidents and all other issues of life. Happiness at 5 was when I did not have to do homework or become watched by a person other than my parents. Your poem was well-expressed I have to say. Good job!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love the message in this poem, and especially love that "days of discovery are back" and "finding my younger self still alive". The well-kept secret of age - that younger self, still within......still alive. I saw it in my grandma when she was in her 90's. She did a few dance steps, sashaying across the room and I saw her twenty year old self, still in there......shining.

Unknown said...

I am one of the lucky
ones, finding my younger self still alive.

That's the spirit :-) to look at the world with the wisdom of a grown-up and the innocence of a child.... so well expressed.. love it... :-)

rallentanda said...

The creativity of writing certainly does keep one on one's toes and certainly when dealing with other poets:)

Unknown said...

oh we do reliv a happy past in our writings dont we... so many memories are refreshed !! :)

Judith C Evans said...

I can definitely relate, especially to the line"here I play with dolls again." We are blessed to be writers, to be able to live in those "days of discovery."

Arathi Harihar said...

I love the wisdom pearls in this poem..finding the younger self again..that's what we all want..to be child like again..very beautiful Susan:)

Anonymous said...

i wish i played chess well enough for it to make me happy

fear of happiness

Carrie Van Horn said...

So very true Susan. Glad your younger self is still alive and kicking. :-)

Unknown said...

I love the sense of striving and growth in these lines. At 5 we fell over and picked ourselves up with either tears or a giggle. I don't welcome those spills anymore - had one the other day and was afraid I would not get up. Happiness is a ray of sunshine in our hands...

Grace said...

Well at the young age, it seems everyday is a happy day ~ Have to work hard for it now that I am older ~ To be 5 again and discovering the world...you are lucky to keep that child alive in you ~

Anonymous said...

Your poem is full of truth and experience. I hope I never grow up if it means losing touch with that little girl I once was.

annell4 said...

Wonderful poem...maybe happiness was easier at five, or is it easier now? I never know....it just comes from nowhere, and fills my day, not something you can go any find, it is just here!

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


I think happiness in childhood can never quite be repeated in adulthood...It is not possible to know that sense of freedom and happiness...Then the cares of the world did not rest so heavily upon one's heart!!