From where comes this will to persist?

From where comes this will to persist?
I couldn’t find it lying around in a stack of half-read books.
I didn’t see it outside in the faces of the passerby.
My neighbor said hi, and ran on, pressed on to meet with peers of prestige.
Oh, here it comes, in the form of a little, shiny face, crying,
“Daddy!” with utter gleeful abandon–no reticence whatsoever.
There it is, in these faces on the wall, reminding me that I don’t just belong
To myself and to God.
There are faces from weddings, mine and my parents’,
Faces from a young man’s final birthday, his sixteenth.
Occasionally, wistfully, I remember someone who befriended me
For no particular reason.
Like the year after Mom died, and it was my birthday,
And people who had connected with me of Facebook
Stood beside me, stretching for a familiar community footrace.
Nobody said, happy birthday, until I mentioned it,
And then, it was spoken in such condescending tones, as if to say,
Aren’t you old enough and man enough to not care if we all don’t care?
And then she showed up.
She was beautiful and married, of course.
I didn’t know until years later that she was a year or two older than me.
She seemed young and immature, inexperienced, but full of a gracious heart.
She chose to run and chat with me, for no particularly good reason.
She lived in one of the finer neighborhoods with a fine, lawyer husband and fine family and social network.
I lived in the slums of the wealthiest zip code, in apartments full of rats and roaches.
I remember people like her, on days like this, when nothing about life seems to indicate that I will ever end up anywhere in particular.
For too many years, you are supposed to be going places
Even as you run around in circles in endless community foot races.
You are supposed to be making connections, networks, and leveraging them,
Working your way up from Asssitant to Manager to Director to VP to C-something.
You are supposed to be calmly and patiently sucking up all of the excess you see around you in your tony townhome neighborhood while you sock away what’s left after the wine and smoked salmon into a savings account
That will enable you to pay for college educations, princess weddings and twenty years of European cruises.
When someone Googles your name, they aren’t supposed to see some stupid
Thing you did foolishly when you were still fumbling around, trying to find yourself.
They are supposed to see that graceful, poised interview you provided to the local news network’s morning puff piece program.
They are supposed to see you in various society sections with your glass of wine and smoked salmon and fancy dress or tux.
Sometimes, you read in the news how people who you think should be the happiest people on earth end up taking too many pills one night.
Sometimes, you read in the news how people who you think should be the most miserable people on earth end up persisting, being, moving on and fighting off death over and over and over again.
You think you probably have both people in you, and you aren’t completely sure how or why you are who you seem to be.
You think that you could probably exist as just about anyone else, and you’d still have this strange will to persist coupled with the ever-present nagging voice questioning whether or not you should exist.
The truth is, you can’t resist waking up just one more day, just to see
If today might be the day that brings about the kind of change–positive, mind you–
That you’ve worked and waited and hoped and struggled for.
If not, it’s back to bed again, and the slow death for you, the one your ancestors knew.

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