Paradise Lost Three cups up on the shelf, then collapse into the chair, "Progress" redefined as doing anything That doesn't involve the emergency room Or our loved ones' disappointment. It's not a life, barely an existence That consumes our time these days. What is a man in our culture once "Productivity" is a thing of the past? What has really been our value? Surely not just a pay check? Perhaps bulging muscles, since grown soft, Every attempt to use them excruciating All people claim that they have been devalued, But not a man - until his sole value, The ability to punch a clock and pay the bills, Has receded in time past where his hairline stood, Brave defender of days gone by that cannot be recalled Relived the use of a little blue pill. Men are consigned to the junk heap, once we no longer "do," "Friends" abandon us, fearing our unavoidable ailment. Partners look at us with the searing spike of pity, The well intended but deadly offering to What once was but shall not be again, The protector, the earner, the leader, the charade. Not contagious, but rather inevitable, We intrepid explorers of the final frontier. Feel neither brave nor adventurous, Limping from point to point upon what once was, Now so empty we hardly believe it was once full, While will be is devoid of hope for fulfillment. Transforming from the values of the mind, To the values that dwell deep within the heart; From the one who makes the mirror and markets it, To the one who polishes and perfects it, Away from sight, away from understanding, In the deep recesses of the soul. The work unseen, the work "unproductive," Providing depth to the entire human project. Ostracized, criticized, consigned to the desert Where all meaningful work takes place. Away from the noise, away from the yardstick Comes the only transformation that matters. First all must be stripped, all meaning removed, And never to return lest we might be tempted To return to what has been destroyed And sit bleeding among the ashes Reminiscing of the good old days That in truth never were, but which keep us distracted Building from emptiness, our defenses obliterated Love moves in where business once lived, Finally creating the eternal home - A home not needing your approval or understanding, A home that exists to bring healing and meaning Where meaningless activity once stood. We now see how in weakness there is strength, In imperfections there is completion, How the reality of what is far surpasses The facade of distraction and reassurance. Finally we sit ready for what will be, Knowing whatever it will be is just fine.