Things That Don't Suck
'Things That Don't Suck' by Andrea Gibson
The Power of Knowing We Are Not Done Growing

The Power of Knowing We Are Not Done Growing

Why I like caterpillars more than butterflies

Hi Wonderful Community,

Today I’m sharing a new video of my poem, “What Sucks About The Afterlife” published in my book, ‘You Better Be Lightning.” It’s a longer poem, but begins with this stanza:

On Earth, everyone loved butterflies,

but I trusted the caterpillars more.

I trusted the ones who knew 

they were not done growing.

On Earth, I was a work in progress,

was comforted in the knowing 

that I had a million mistakes

still in me to learn from.

I wrote this piece in hopes of shifting our cultural inclination to beat the living daylights out of ourselves (and each other) for the mistakes we make. In the poem I imagine a perfect world (the afterlife) where no one makes mistakes, and I paint that as an obstacle in hopes of calming our screaming aversion to doing something “wrong” and our cultural need to label someone who has done something wrong as wrong themselves. Throughout my life, the biggest strides I’ve made in my learning and growing have come on the heels of my mess ups.

Right before I died, I thought

In the afterlife, I’ll apply for a job

at a mistake factory. They’ll be awed

by my resumé. If anything, I’m overqualified.

But there’s no place where they make

mistakes here. Everyone is flawless.

Everyone’s blunders are photoshopped

right off of their lives before

they even happen. 

Would you prefer a flawless life over the one you have? A life where you and everyone you know does everything “right” all of the time? If your answer is yes, I get it. I just believe there is value in our imperfections, our humanness. Evolution depends on our capacity to greet the ways we have not yet evolved with tenderness, understanding, and grace. At the end of the poem I write:

Is this heaven or hell? I can’t tell.

I looked that famous carpenter up

in the phone book, but his number

wasn’t listed, and I need to ask him 

where to find the wood for some missteps.

I’m not about to spend eternity

burning in the lie that holy and perfect 

are the same thing.

A  promised land is not a promised land 

if I can’t keep learning.

Today I invite you to make a list of some of the mistakes you’ve made and the learning that has come along with each one.  Rarely in my life has an error not forced me into a better version of myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to navigate the harder emotions that surface. Especially when my error caused pain in another. But the more I am able to see mistakes as learning moments, the more I can show up to both myself and others with a listening and loving ear. 

What is one way you have grown into a more compassionate person because of a mistake you’ve made in the past? I love it when y’all share in the comments. Can’t wait to read.

Thanks for being here, everyone!

Love, Andrea 🖤

Things That Don't Suck is a reader-supported digital bouquet filled with flowers that bloom on the bright side. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by becoming a paid subscriber. Thank you for being here.

Things That Don't Suck
'Things That Don't Suck' by Andrea Gibson
A quest to uncover what shifts, when we shift our attention
Listen on
Substack App
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Andrea Gibson