Substance of Life

Life. What is it and can we define it?

Is it simply the breath we take?

Is it in our senses: in touch, sight, sounds?

Is it in our minds: remembrances, thoughts?

Is it in our hearts: feelings, emotions?

Is it in our souls: that inner self?


To wit, I hold that life is not in us.

It is all around us, surrounding us.

It is in nature which engulfs us, sustains us.

It is in a renewing rain which feeds us.

It is in a lazy, gentle, cooling breeze.


Made all the more precious from above.

It comes from a million glowing, winking stars.

It comes from the bright of day and somberness of night.

It comes from the glow of the sunset and the hues of the sunrise.

It comes from the unknown depths of the heavens.


It can be defined by what defines us.

Its substance is in those we hold dear.

Its substance is in our mothers and fathers.

Its substance is in sisters and brothers.

Its substance is in our friends we cherish.


If I am my life and what sustains, confirms me,

Then I and my life are all that I am not.

It is not so much a force within me but consuming me.

Not in flesh, bones and blood coursing through veins.

Rather, a nourishing force all around me, holding me.


My life is my love for all that is without not within.

It lies within a walk in the morning dew.

It lies within a comforting embrace, a kind word.

It lies within each moment to share joy and sorrow.

It lies within quiet times enjoined by those I love.


All in all, it cannot be defined for it has no true substance.

Its suddenness of beginning and suddenness of ending,

This all prevents any reasoned explanation.

Yet all that it is and all that it is not is sure,

That it is an immeasurable gift from the Master.


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About John White

I've written off and on my entire life. It took years for me to finally take putting words together seriously. Now it's not, nor does it ever feel, like work. Writing daily has become habitual. No day is complete without words having appeared on the page.

Posted on July 30, 2014, in Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Life is beauty. Like your poem.

  3. Great beginning poem! Searching for the feeling of life. Thanks John for dropping by and enjoying Standing-Still-Sun. Cheers!

  4. I really enjoyed this one John. Thank you for sharing your poetry and thanks for following me on my new adventure of poetry! It is great to share with you 🙂

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