Life Lesson Poems

Life Lesson Poems

Poems about Life Lessons

It has been said that life is the most patient teacher. You will be presented with the same experience over and over until you learn the best way to deal with the situation. This is not because life is cruel. Rather, it is because things have a way of coming back to haunt us when we don't deal with them. One form of intelligence is the ability to learn from mistakes. When you are presented with a painful experience, take the time to think about how you can avoid it in the future. This is an example of a lesson learned.

83 Poems about Lessons Learned from Mistakes

  1. 1. Good Timber

    Douglas Malloch (1877-1938), known as the "Lumbermen's Poet," compares good men to good timber in this famous metaphorical poem. The message of this poem is that people, like trees, grow and reach their true potential by overcoming adversity. It is only through struggles, like a tree fighting through forest growth to reach the sun, that we grow and discover our true potential. Malloch lived in Michigan where he grew up amongst logging camps and lumber yards. He wrote his first published poem when he was still a boy; it was published in the Detroit News.

    The tree that never had to fight
    For sun and sky and air and light,
    But stood out in the open plain
    And always got its share of rain,
    Never became a forest king
    But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    The man who never had to toil
    To gain and farm his patch of soil,
    Who never had to win his share
    Of sun and sky and light and air,
    Never became a manly man
    But lived and died as he began.

    Good timber does not grow with ease,
    The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
    The further sky, the greater length,
    The more the storm, the more the strength.
    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
    In trees and men good timbers grow.

    Where thickest lies the forest growth
    We find the patriarchs of both.
    And they hold counsel with the stars
    Whose broken branches show the scars
    Of many winds and much of strife.
    This is the common law of life.

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    Poetry is a passionate way of expressing our innermost thoughts, emotions, spirit, and love, amongst other things. As I read this poem, I thought of a very humble gentleman who lost his...

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  3. 2. Changing The Past

    • By Donna
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems July 2011

    What inspired me to write this poem was my brother. He was going through some bad stuff, but it was fixable. It wasn't as bad as what a lot of people go through in this world. Actually, he selfishly brought it on himself. I tried to talk to him as much as I could, but he wouldn't listen. He refused to let it go. He just kept holding onto it. When I couldn't get through to him, I wrote this poem because I needed to write my feelings down, and this is what came out. Hopefully you enjoy it.

    Poem About Letting Go Of The Past

    The past is the past for a reason.
    That is where it is supposed to stay,
    But some cannot let it go.
    In their heads it eats away

    Until all their focus becomes
    The person they used to be,
    The mistakes they made in their life.
    Oh, if only they could see

    That you cannot change what happened,
    No matter how hard you try,
    No matter how much you think about it,
    No matter how much you cry.

    What happens in your lifetime
    Happens for reasons unknown,
    So you have to let the cards unfold.
    Let your story be shown.

    Don't get wrapped up in the negative.
    Be happy with what you have been given.
    Live for today not tomorrow.
    Get up, get out, and start living,

    Because the past is the past for a reason.
    It's been, and now it is gone,
    So stop trying to think of ways to fix it.
    It's done, it's unchangeable; move on.

    Poem About Letting Go Of The Past, Changing The Past

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    I really enjoyed this poem. It's so very true. We all have certain regrets or circumstances in life we would give anything to change if we could. Sometimes that is just not possible, and even...

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  5. 3. Be Proud Of Who You Are

    • By S Raine
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems November 2010

    I try to instill in my daughters that we all are unique, so find yourself and be proud of who you are.

    I Am Unique

    I come with no wrapping or pretty pink bows.
    I am who I am, from my head to my toes.
    I tend to get loud when speaking my mind.
    Even a little crazy some of the time.
    I'm not a size 5 and don't care to be.
    You can be you and I can be me.
    I try to stay strong when pain knocks me down.
    And the times that I cry are when no one's around.
    To error is human or so that's what they say.
    Well, tell me who's perfect anyway.

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    I love this poem! People are always trying to fit in and be normal. I've always disregarded being "normal." What's the point? Why would I be someone I am not? I am perfectly happy the way I...

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  6. 4. Each Moment Is Precious

    I wrote this poem to express the importance of each moment in life and living it to the fullest.

    Living In The Present Moment

    Live in the moment,
    Just take it all in.
    Pay attention to everything,
    Right there and right then.

    Don't let your mind wander
    To what's coming next.
    Cherish this moment
    And give it your best.

    Don't let tomorrow
    Make you rush through today,
    Or too many great moments
    Will just go to waste.

    And the person you're with,
    In that moment you share,
    Give them all of your focus;
    Be totally there.

    Laugh till it hurts,
    Let the tears drop.
    Fill up each moment
    With all that you've got.

    Don't miss the details;
    The lesson is there.
    Don't get complacent;
    Stay sharp and aware.

    It can take but a moment
    To change your life's path.
    And once it ticks by,
    There is no going back.

    In just 60 seconds,
    You may make a new friend.
    Find your true love,
    Or see a life start or end.

    You become who you are
    In those moments you live.
    And the growth's not in taking
    But in how much you give.

    Life is just moments,
    So precious and few.
    Whether valued or squandered,
    It's all up to you!

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    That was touching. It really said my whole life. I'm too busy with everything and I'm memorizing this to my heart. I'm busy with school. I take too much time thinking about tomorrow than...

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  7. 5. I Still Matter

    I never thought I would, but since I turned 60, I have been struggling with growing old and all the emotions that entails.

    Dealing With Growing Old

    I'M STILL HERE

    My looks are nothing special,
    My face reveals my age,
    My body shows some wear and tear,
    And my energy's not the same.

    Too often my memory fails me,
    And I lose things all the time.
    One minute I know what I plan to do,
    And the next it may just slip my mind.

    I try hard to avoid my mirror.
    There are things I would rather not see,
    And even those times when I just catch a glimpse,
    I can no longer recognize me.

    The things I used to do with ease
    Can now cause aches and pains,
    And the quality of the things I do
    Will never be quite the same.

    I always compare my older self
    To those younger versions of me,
    And I know I'm wasting too much time
    Missing who I used to be.

    But the thing that really makes me sad
    Is despite what people see,
    Underneath my tattered, worn out shell,
    I'm still the same old me.

    My heart can still feel endless love,
    And at times it still can ache.
    My heart can fill with so much joy,
    And then it can suddenly break.

    My soul can still feel sympathy
    And longs for forgiveness and peace,
    And there are times its light shines boldly through,
    And times when it longs for release.

    It's true, maybe now that I'm older,
    Feeling lonely may be status quo,
    But it also has made me more willing
    To forgive and let past conflicts go.

    So maybe to some I look ugly and old,
    A person who barely exists.
    I'm still quite aware of the beauty inside,
    And my value should not be dismissed.

    So although not as strong and no beauty, it's true,
    I'm still here and want so much to live,
    And I know that there's no one in this world quite like me,
    And no one who has more to give.

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    This poem really hit home with me. I will be 60 on my next birthday and it seems like years fly by like days. I too look in the mirror and wonder where all the lines and wrinkles have came...

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  8. 6. Forgiveness Is Divine

    This poem is about people who hold on to grudges and can't forgive and how destructive that is.

    The Power Of Forgiveness

    Some people view forgiveness
    As a virtue for the weak.
    An act of mercy undeserved,
    That serves no useful need.

    They stand firmly in their judgment
    And won't consider a mistake.
    They prefer to hold a senseless grudge
    Than accept amends when made.

    They feel they have some godly right
    To reject and criticize.
    They're possessed by righteous anger,
    And consumed by pointless pride.

    They're focused on how they've been wronged,
    And won't be made the fool again.
    So they feel they must avenge themselves
    By refusing to give in.

    They will sacrifice their family,
    Or forsake a long-time friend.
    Do anything they have to do
    To be the winner in the end.

    Or perhaps it's that they can't resolve
    The depth of all their hurt,
    Caused when someone they've trusted,
    Left them questioning their worth.

    But no matter why the struggle,
    Out of pride or out of fear,
    Not being able to forgive
    Can cause the loss of ones most dear.

    Yes, forgiveness is a virtue,
    They even say it is divine.
    But more than that it sets you free
    From what weighs you down inside.

    The best way to approach this life
    Is to ask forgiveness and to forgive.
    There's a balance to this crazy world,
    So live and just let live.

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    Hi Pat,
    I was so pleased to wake this morning and find one of your poems. Everything you write comes from your heart. I have commented to you before of how I enjoy your poems and I feel...

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  9. 7. Keep On Smiling

    • By Alexandra Skiathitis
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2008

    What a smile can do

    If at times you feel you want to cry
    And life seems such a trial,
    Above the clouds there's a bright blue sky,
    So make your tears a smile.

    As you travel on life's way
    With its many ups and downs,
    Remember it's quite true to say
    One smile is worth a dozen frowns.

    Among the world's expensive things,
    A smile is very cheap.
    And when you give a smile away,
    You get one back to keep.

    Happiness comes at times to all,
    But sadness comes unbidden,
    And sometimes a few tears must fall
    Among the laughter hidden.

    So when friends have sadness on their face
    And troubles round them piled,
    The world will seem a better place
    And all because you smiled.

    Keep On Smiling

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    So I moved and I really wanted good friends. I had this one friend who was always happy and could light up a room by walking in. He was always smiling and this poem reminded me of him. Thank you.

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  10. 8. A Snowflake Falls

    • By Ruth Adams
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2006

    Nothing is permanent, so let's be present to the good in our lives because it will not last forever.

    Importance Of Staying Connected With Family And Friends

    One night I saw a snowflake fall.
    Past memories it did recall.

    And as the snow fell to the ground,
    So quietly without a sound,

    I watched until a blanket made,
    To glistening white - brown earth did fade.

    An untouched cover until the dawn.
    The sun arose; it was soon gone.

    I thought of friendships in the past.
    Seemed perfect though they did not last.

    And family ties once meant so much,
    Now rarely do we keep in touch.

    So quickly life can take a turn,
    Yet slowly we do seem to learn.

    So many things in life can change
    And suddenly be rearranged.

    In our slumber while we do sleep,
    For granted blessings thought to keep,

    For same as night does turn to morn,
    An untouched blanket can get torn,

    The things that we have overlooked,
    Ignored, rejected or mistook,

    As melted snow does turn to slush,
    Relationships can turn to dust.

    So this year for the holiday,
    Praise God for blessings given today.

    Don't take for granted they'll remain,
    That life forever will be the same.

    Let's be the most that we can be,
    For all our friends and family.

    Unlike the snowflake on the ground,
    Let's keep in touch and stay around.

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    Superb, poetry as its best.

    We should count our blessings one by one,
    Every night and day, lest they be gone.
    Friends and family, hold onto them tight,
    For they may disappear in a...

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  11. 9. If You Must Go

    These are a few things I have learned from my experiences in life.

    Poem With Words Of Advice

    If you must go, then go for a while
    Remember that first step is a hard traveled mile.

    To learn what lessons life has in store,
    You must be willing to open each door.

    Don't be afraid to experience something new
    For each experience will be a benefit to you.

    Never live your life in the past
    Enjoy every day as if it were your last

    Mistakes you will make along the way
    Learn from them, and you'll be okay

    Set your goals high and strive for them
    As long as you try, you'll never be condemned

    Be kind and respect the people you meet
    For they may be the ones to make life complete

    Be sincere in everything you do
    And treat others as you wish they would you

    Whatever you do, make sure you're content
    For the last thing you want is something to resent

    So if you must go, then go for a while
    And when you return, return with a smile.

    Poem With Words Of Advice, If You Must Go

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    I, too, was motivated by your poem. Like Arimoon, I also allow my past to hold me back. I am so hard on myself for my past mistakes, regret, bad decisions, etc... but with each new day that...

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  12. 10. As You Go Through Life

    In this poem, Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) shares valuable advice about life and shows that trying to make things go your way is futile. She encourages that instead of fighting against the reality of life being difficult at times, allow yourself to be shaped into God’s plan. A lot of her poems have a spiritual element to them. This poem is made up of octaves (eight-line stanzas).

    Don't look for the flaws as you go through life;
    And even when you find them,
    It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind
    And look for the virtue behind them.
    For the cloudiest night has a hint of light
    Somewhere in its shadows hiding;
    It is better by far to hunt for a star,
    Than the spots on the sun abiding.

    The current of life runs ever away
    To the bosom of God's great ocean.
    Don't set your force 'gainst the river's course
    And think to alter its motion.
    Don't waste a curse on the universe--
    Remember it lived before you.
    Don't butt at the storm with your puny form,
    But bend and let it go o'er you.

    The world will never adjust itself
    To suit your whims to the letter.
    Some things must go wrong your whole life long,
    And the sooner you know it the better.
    It is folly to fight with the Infinite,
    And go under at last in the wrestle;
    The wiser man shapes into God's plan
    As water shapes into a vessel.

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    Sometimes life goes up and down between hills and rivers, but with even the least courage and a sign of faith in the turn we make at the sharp curve, it all levels up to positivity no matter...

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  13. 11. Family Circle

    • By Melissa G. Nicks
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2006

    This poem is about the circle of life and the bittersweet realization of how time and life pass by so quickly.

    Cycle Of Life Poem

    When I am born, you are here
    In your eye, I see a tear
    Time flies and already I'm two
    "Look, Daddy, I can tie my shoe!"

    Before you know it, I'm five
    Every day, you thank God I'm alive
    Pretty soon, I turn eight
    You tell me I'm never allowed to date

    I'm already twelve in my preteen years
    Which means you'll help me with all my new fears
    Now fourteen with my permit to drive
    Waiting to hit the big one-five

    Too early comes sixteen, with my license now
    It went by too fast, you just ask how

    You want to meet my boyfriend when I'm eighteen
    I pray to God that you're not too mean
    The same guy two years later asks for my hand
    I'm relieved when you say, that's just grand

    About a year later, you walk me down the aisle
    Through all the tears, you bare a smile
    Three years later, you're gonna be a grandfather
    You show love and pride for your new granddaughter

    Another year down the road
    Mom dies, oh the many tears that flowed
    You're not doing so well without her
    Less than a year later, you forgot all about her

    Alzheimer's sets in and it scares me so
    Not long after, you decide to go
    Now I'm regretting not saying goodbye
    Every time I think about it, I start to cry

    The cycle has begun again
    It has started over with little Megan
    The other day, she turned two
    And said, "Look, daddy, I can tie my shoe!"

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    Wow! Words cannot describe the quality of this poem. It is touching and another thing is that it co-relates with life's reality. Thanks a lot and thumbs up for the great job!

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  14. 12. Love After Love

    Much of the inspiration for Derek Walcott's poetry comes from the history of Saint Lucia, where he was born. This poem has a theme of accepting yourself as you are. Before you can love others, you need to love yourself.

    The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other's welcome,

    And say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

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    My husband died 10 years ago. He was the love of my life, my soul-mate, my best friend. I have not known how to 'adjust' to him being gone until I read this poem, "Love After Love." Everyone...

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  15. 13. A Poison Tree

    This poem by William Blake (1757-1827 London) depicts the value of not holding bad feelings inside. In the poem, he suggests that sharing your bad feelings with the one you are angry about will cause the ill will to disappear. On the other hand, holding a grudge inside will only make it grow more powerful. The poem ends with a murder in a garden.

    I was angry with my friend:
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe:
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    And I waterd it in fears
    Night & morning with my tears;
    And I sunned it with smiles,
    And with soft deceitful wiles.

    And it grew both day and night,
    Till it bore an apple bright.
    And my foe beheld it shine,
    And he knew that it was mine,

    And into my garden stole,
    When the night had veiled the pole;
    In the morning glad I see
    My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.

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    A Poison Tree is a short and deceptively simple poem about repressing anger and the consequences of doing so. The speaker tells of how they fail to communicate their wrath to their foe and...

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  16. 14. True Joy

    How to live in the present...

    I'll be happy once I've done this certain thing.
    We all say this often, not realizing what it brings.
    We look only to the future for our happiness,
    Letting life slip through our fingers in its fullness.
    Will we really feel complete when the task is done
    or look back and see how we missed so much fun?
    Self consumed so we can't see anything else,
    hurting those we love as well as ourselves.
    So many things around us to be grateful for.
    When seeking for an answer, willingly open the door.
    So often, others see what's in front of our face,
    but we're too blind to look as we're snared in the race.
    What is this life supposed to be about?
    Is it money, fortune, fame, or a big house?
    When speaking to a man on his dying bed,
    none of these answers are what he said.
    Family, love, laughter are what we should seek.
    These are the precious things that keep life from being bleak.

    True Joy

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    Well thought out expression of a very deep yet communal event given voice in an authentic poetry format. Deeply set me thinking about my father's recent death. It's an experience that bind...

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  17. 15. As Time Passes

    • By Jenni-fiere M. Bivens
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2006

    Fill in the blank; the life you see could be your own.

    Poem On Time Going By So Fast

    As the seconds pass,
    We look back
    At what our lives have held.

    As the minutes pass,
    We see what fell through the cracks.
    Parts of our lives we withheld.

    As the hours pass,
    We think of what we learned,
    What we have taught,
    What we have forgot.

    As the days pass,
    We wish a lot could be returned.
    We wish we would have never fought
    You hope they forget me not.

    As years pass,
    You stand alone.
    They have all grown,
    Married and gone
    Or on their own.

    As your life passes,
    You stand proud,
    Looking how well they raise their own.
    You did well.
    Live on...

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    The poem really hit home with me. I decided to use this for a compare and contrast essay for my literature class.

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  18. 16. Perceptions

    Took a me a while, but after misjudging people and being misjudged myself a number of times, I've learned to be careful jumping to conclusions about others.

    Jumping To Conclusions About People

    First impressions can be strong
    About those we see around.
    Yet how often are they wrong?
    That is the truth I've found.

    Not all who cry are weak.
    Not everyone who looks can see.
    Not all who are quiet are meek.
    Not all who nod agree.

    Not all who snarl are cruel.
    Not everyone generous is just.
    Not everyone clumsy is a fool.
    Not all who wander are lost.

    We never know people's character.
    In just a single instance.
    We never know who people are
    By judging from a distance.

    But whether we like it or not,
    We'll always be around people.
    Is it better to know a few people a lot
    Or a lot of people a little?

    I'd rather know a few people a lot
    Than a lot of people a little.

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    What a wonderful piece of writing. I love it! I agree with it. In my early 20's I worked in a convenience store, and I had a game I played where I would judge whether the customer would be...

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  19. 17. Greed

    Poem about the danger of being possessed by greed. I am always amazed at the attachment people have to their possessions, myself included. Go to any garage sale on a Saturday and you will see for yourself. If we are not careful, we can let our desire for possessions become an obsession and be completely consumed by greed. A wise man once said that any possession that you are not able to release possesses you.

    Poem About Greed And Money

    When we were born with no possession.
    The love received was our concession.
    No worries, no fears, no troubles, no fuss.
    In mother's arms we put our trust.

    But as we grew, we looked and craved,
    and all too soon became enslaved.
    The more we saw, the more we wanted.
    Our quest for more became undaunted.

    Our thirst for more could not be quenched.
    The more we grasped, the tighter we clenched.
    We scampered and gathered and gathered to hoard.
    Possessions became our master and lord.

    And when we're old with our treasures all heaped,
    a sad example of what greed has reaped.
    Our fists still clenched in a grasping motion,
    till at our death, when our hands are opened.

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    Wow, this poem reminds me of one of my uncles who was all about his accomplishments. He chased after money till he couldn't. Lying on his hospital bed breathing his last, he realized life...

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  20. 18. Secrets Under Trees

    Everyone has lies and hurtful secrets they wish to bury, actions they regret and things they want to change. This short poem is about learning to appreciate everything a person has to offer and not just dwelling on their past mistakes.

    Focusing On The Good

    Tiny little secrets
    Get buried in the dirt,
    And if they were dug up,
    Someone would probably get hurt,
    So leave them safely there,
    To rot amongst the leaves,
    Admiring instead,
    The truth in summer's green trees.

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    I don’t know if that’s true, because sometimes it's better to hide the hurtful secrets because the world these days will probably laugh at you then do nothing for a few days then decide...

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  21. 19. We Are All Human

    This poem talks about how similar we are. In the end, we are all only human and doing the best we can.

    Trying To Understand Each Other

    I've lived quite a while and learned quite a bit
    About life and this world where we live.
    I've found that it's filled with both good and the bad.
    Some who take, while some others will give.

    There's a balance to life in the way it unfolds.
    That's a truth that we all come to know.
    They'll be times we endure some unbearable days
    And sleepless nights filled with anger and woe.

    Then come those moments of utter contentment,
    When it all seems to fall into place,
    When all that you are seems so right with the world,
    You feel all of your pain's been erased.

    We spend so much time on a quest for ourselves,
    Searching for that internal peace.
    And on each of our paths we may misstep and fall,
    But our need for the answers won't cease.

    We're composed and we're driven by our hearts and souls.
    Our beliefs grow from what we've been taught.
    Our dreams are all nurtured by the things that we see,
    And our morals from the fights we have fought.

    We all look so different; we all have our ways,
    And at times we just can't understand
    That inside we're no different, our humanities the same,
    And we all do the best that we can.

    Feelings of sadness, grief, joy, and pain,
    Feeling lonely and empty and scared.
    We each have these feelings, no matter our lives,
    And we all yearn for someone to care.

    It's that not understanding each other
    Fosters the feelings of hate,
    So we must take the time to learn all that we can,
    While forgiving each other's mistakes.

    Yes, I've learned quite a lot in my 63 years,
    And to look well beyond what I see
    To embrace and respect everyone as they are,
    And hope that they'll do that for me.

    The world won't stop spinning, and the sun will still rise.
    There will always be conflict and strife,
    But accepting we're all only human
    Will make this a much better life.

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  22. 20. Lessons For Living

    Having been a Camp Fire and Cub Scout leader, I saw early on how easily young children were influenced by what they were exposed to from the beginning. I watched those same children grow to adults and the results of their childhood training. I hope the parents that might read this poem will give it some thought.

    Teaching Our Children

    I see you looking at your children,
    Wondering what their lives will be.
    If you verify some answers
    Then their future you might see.

    Have you taught them to be truthful?
    Have you taught them to be kind?
    Have you given them the wisdom
    Needed to be color blind?

    Have you taught them to be caring
    For those handicapped some way?
    Do you read to them at bedtime?
    Have you taught them how to pray?

    Have you taken time to tell them
    What a miracle life is?
    How to be aware of nature,
    Share the beauty that it gives?

    Have you taught them how important
    It is to have respect for one another?
    To be grateful, not be prideful
    When good fortune you discover?

    Do you let them know you love them
    In a way that leaves no doubt,
    So they know that is one thing
    That they will never be without?

    We like to think we've done our best.
    Sometimes that's very true.
    Can you say 'yes' to all my questions?
    I will leave that up to you.

    I hope your answer is affirmative,
    For then I know that you will see
    A future filled with happiness
    Like it's supposed to be.

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    I loved this poem. The list of things that should be given to our children to have an amazing journey through this life, it's all here! This poem contains so much wisdom! Beautifully written....

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