On the outside, looking in

On the outside, looking in

Sometimes I feel left out,
On the outside, looking in.

It’s not because I’ve been put there.
Outside is a place I have chosen.

And yet, I peer inside,
Longing to be in there.

Sometimes I’m noticed
From inside, and invited in.

Inside, I’m surprised
By the warmth of my welcome.

Genuinely, warm.

Still, after a while
I find myself looking outside.


Labrangsi Monastery
Gansu Province, China

Taken during travels, 1998

Sometimes, I take a feeling from these images as a prompt for writing. From the feeling, words begin to flow. The words may not tell the true story of the photograph.

This young monk was peering into a temple building where, inside, elder monks chanted. They were seated, in rows, with handwritten books of Buddhist sutras in the laps formed by their crossed legs and robes. Their boots, outside.

Curiosity. Youths and elders. “Will this be me?” … these are other prompts I could have gone with. But, today, it was “On the outside, looking in”.

Perhaps, on another day, I’ll explore another prompt with this image. Something truer to its story.