If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve”

– Emily Dickinson

How the hell did I go all these years without reading that Dickinson poem? Too much time not reading poetry, I’d say. And not casting the net farther. That’s on me, but I’m catching up. Learning is a lifetime sport, and I woke up this morning still very much alive.

I first felt the whispers of Dickinson when I coached at Amherst College. She lived in Amherst, appropriately there’s a Dickinson museum there, and a thriving community of scholars too. The Amherst air is full of her whispers. But I wasn’t ready to hear them, and left after a year following other voices.

Perhaps if I’d read this poem before I left I may have listened more. I heard other voices then. The call of other places made it hard to hear. A shame it took so long really, but I’m catching up now. Emily was patiently waiting, and she whispers to me now:

“If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve

He can lean against the Grave,

if he fail to swerve”

Do you hear her whisper? Get on with it already. What are you afraid of?