While hiking with a pug in Portsmouth, Rhode Island last year, I came across a poetry box posted along a meadow. Inside, I found Sylvia Meriern Ferris’s poem “The Eagle” stapled to the back, along with a notebook and pen for people passing by to write in. I was so inspired and uplifted by the magical finding that I decided to create my own poetry box in my hometown of Madison, Connecticut. With the help of my parents (especially my dad who built the boxes) and the approval of Bauer Farm, I put up two poetry boxes on either side of the land last spring. I picked this spot because as a teenager, this farm was extremely special to me. I used to walk from middle school and high school (both just a short hike away) to find solace in the meadow and peace along the pond's shore. This farm was a safe place for me as a kid, and so I wanted to give back, both to the land and to the present day teenagers who still pass through these fields.
Since putting up the boxes, I have been delighted by all the positive responses. People of all ages have stopped to write in the notebooks. Some doodle, others write poems, thoughts, and quotes, while others let out negative feelings and words. I am an optimist, but not ignorantly so. I fully expected negativity to pass by these boxes, especially since they are located steps away from two public schools, but I'll admit, I was a little disappointed when I went to check out this project the other day and found that someone had ripped off my poem.
I had two choices when confronted with this vandalism:
1) I could feel defeated and walk away with nothing but the destruction in mind.
2) I could go home, get my tools, and return to reestablish the beauty.
I chose choice number two.
In life, there will always be people, circumstances, and events that try to knock you down. True strength comes in getting back up. True strength comes in still believing in your dreams and fighting for what you stand for in the face of adversity. I am prouder of this project now than I was when I first started it because it has been through some challenges and has only gotten stronger. I used more staples to secure the poem this second time around, and interestingly enough, when I returned to fix the box, I noticed a kind stranger had nailed a thin board across the front to keep the notebook and pen from falling out. I was so focused on the vandalism before, I hadn't noticed this helpful addition. For every bit of negativity in life, there is also positivity. For every hurtful hand, there is also a helpful hand reaching out.
I'm sure this won't be the last time I have to repair a few damages to this project, just like I'm sure my most recent life challenge won't be the last I have to face, but I will keep persevering, and my poetry boxes and I will keep getting stronger.
Welcome all experiences in life! Grow and learn from the negative, and find inspiration and fuel from the positive.