All within


Every step we take, we take alone,

from first tottering to last stumble.

Every pain we feel, we feel alone,

and joys shared, ephemeral as day lilies.


Laughter flies on swift wings, waves crash,

colonising the empty strand with sound.

Alone we stand and fall, drink the day,

the song of birds and Mozart’s music,

sipping with a single straw.


Some cheat the solitude with crowds,

the sporting din, the shoulder to shoulder

with a single voice or the lights

and laughter of bars, the twittering neon

and the false bonhomie of strangers.


The end for all is the same,

as the beginning is the same

as the long years in-between,

the thoughts that bounce back and forth

through echoing chambers,

until they fade

into silence.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

37 thoughts on “All within”

      1. Some people just never get invited. Husband has always been like that, the one who rubs the fur up the wrong way. We now do it as a team 🙂

      2. You’ll be in a very exclusive club then! I think it’s the unvarnished truth that puts people off. He’s never been one for glossing over what he doesn’t like.

      3. The saying, ‘he’s honest to a fault’ was made for him. It isn’t appreciated. You know the kind of conversation you have with people you don’t know just happen to be neighbours or parents of kids at the same school, you listen to one of them pontificating on this and that with the authority of an expert, and so you disagree and tell them why they’re wrong? Suddenly, you find you’ve broken the unspoken rule of never contradict a big mouth, never disagree because no one will back you up except later, in private when it doesn’t matter and nobody else will know. We’ve been there so often.

    1. Two’s company for me. All alone I’d probably start talking to myself. I already have long conversations with the dog and cats. Trixie at least has the grace to reply.

      1. The birds are generally worth listening to. Something else I’m discovering, the bird activity I’d never really noticed before, how they aren’t all sweetly singing or being busy minding their own nests, there’s a lot of squabbling and rowing going on. There’s a magpie nesting just behind the house which is bad news for the songbirds in the bushes, but now a couple of crows have moved into the alders down at the stream and they’ve trashed the neighbourhood. Two pairs of jays have moved into the trees right in front of the house and there’s a constant racket now, crows yelling at buzzards, thrushes, orioles. The jays are timid but they’ve decided human contact isn’t so bad after all.

  1. Of course I wasn’t finished but it posted anyway…
    That said, you capture well the fear many have of their own company. Perhaps they are afraid of what they might find.
    And another stunning piece of art. (K)

    1. I think it’s becoming obvious how unprepared we are to rely on our own resources. The number of suggestions of games to play, series to watch, fitness and meditation programmes to follow, an inner world that is imported from a commercial source.
      I’m very fond of the German Expressionists. Maybe because they were in the front line of the ugly tide rising, but they seem to have a painting for every emotion.

      1. People keeping suggesting things for me to do online to fill my time…I’m not being very productive, but I’m also not bored–i have no time I need to fill. I don’t know how people find time to watch hours of television every day.
        The expressionists also knew how to use color. Maybe reality was so dark they had no choice but to oppose it.

      2. I think you might be right about their use of colour. I hadn’t considered that but it sounds right. There’s also a lot of contrast in their work, light and dark, movement and stillness, gaiety and sorrow.
        No, the days aren’t long enough for me either. We have never had a TV so I don’t have that reflex of, it’s 8pm time to watch X. I’m getting a lot of writing done, a lot of observation and thinking. Haven’t even got round to starting the spring cleaning yet.

  2. I know the tone is melancholic; but if I may say, I like the jazzy, cubey illustration you selected. As for the message, well, it’s true. I’m especially caught by the line (and then the passage), “Some cheat the solitude with crowds, . . .” It will be easy once again simply to go into somewhere and feel a part of the assembly. But not only will that be conceit but also abrogation of the labor relationships rightly require.

    1. I’m not sure I intended it to be melancholic. I think it’s the way we are, individuals, not a herd. Surely that’s what makes us different to other animals. We have our own personal thoughts and reactions. We seem to have lost most of the group reaction, except of course when it comes to the ugly side like genocides, which we are the only animals to indulge in.

  3. Your words are not only exquisitely beautiful but also full of wisdom! I particularly liked the poetic metaphor in this passage: ”Laughter flies on swift wings, waves crash,
    colonising the empty strand with sound.”

    1. Thank you! I’m flattered you find wisdom in this. There are things I feel strongly about and they aren’t always what the majority wants to hear. Metaphor sugars the pill to an extent.

    1. It’s truth as I see it, but I don’t mean it to be a miserable thought. Just the way it is. Anyone who is afraid of not being able to off-load worries and fears onto someone else, partner, government, family is afraid of themselves.

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