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February 19, 2024

On Praise

By Ethan Goffman

That strange limbo period before the poetry reading when expectation hangs in the air alongside the jingle of chit chat. The other poets are telling me how wonderful my creations are. A flush of pride swells through me, a cosmic light-headedness like I am some kind of demi-god floating above the Earth, gazing over its vast wilderness, its sprawling cities, its blue horizons dotted with clouds, spackled with sunlight. Thank you, I say, it really means a lot to me because I’ve always, always, always been overlooked my whole entire life. My parents sang praise songs to their own accomplishments, their publications and awards, but ignored us kids, while my siblings were lost in their little worlds, oblivious to me. In school, I was horrible at sports, slow to read, adrift in my own trivial thoughts and unable to pay attention in class, utterly confused by mathematics. I most likely had dyslexia, ADHD, and the gods know what else, perhaps was on the autistic scale. So it means a tremendous amount to receive any morsel of praise.

But please stop praising me, I tell them, it’ll make me arrogant. I’ll always want one more piece of praise, like some voluptuous cake or pie, slathered with creamy, empty calories, then one more after that. Tell me I’m great, tell me my words sing, make you laugh, fill you with empathy, make you gasp with a new understanding. It doesn’t matter. It’ll never satisfy, only make me fat and sick. Although I don’t believe I have much in common with Donald Trump, I do share his craving for endless praise -- in my heart, my guts, my liver, my lungs, I’m weeping for it, always seeking that brief elation that is so quickly snuffed out, a candle in the screaming winds of life.

Article © Ethan Goffman. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-01-02
Image(s) are public domain.
2 Reader Comments
10:52:56 AM
OK let me be the first to say (without irony of course) this is a great piece of prose.
08:53:08 PM
Well put Ethan! There's a way to achieve inner peace...parent yourself..it's the perfect cure for having grown up with a parental deficit!
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