Every Friday, I join an online Christian writing community, Five Minute Friday. We are given a one-word prompt and write – unscripted, unedited, pure free-write – for 5 minutes. The prompt this week is ‘ROAD

The word ‘Road’ brought two thoughts to mind and showed me the connection between them both. The first thought was the title of a book, the content of which once had a large influence on me, called ‘A Road Less Traveled’, by M Scott Peck.

The second thought was the Indian proverb, ‘Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.’

The connection to me was that our roads – our journey, our lives – are in many ways so foreign to each other and that to understand the heart and mind of another, we have to share much of the road with them and listen to their thoughts, behaviour and heart in the ways that they dare to express themselves.

To that end, I want to share the mind of another with you, a glimpse into the mind and heart of a dear acquaintance of mine, Michael Gardner.

He wrote this poem to describe his experience of life through the lens of “autism, O.C.D. and other mental illness.”

I asked if I might share his poem with you, to let you see something of his road, his life wearing ‘his moccasins’.

I am privileged to present his poem, ‘Is Aladdin Out There?’

Is Aladdin Out There?

(Thoughts on Autism, O.C.D and Mental Illness)

My world is insufferably insular.

I am trapped in a room so compact,

Thirty paces from North wall to South wall,

Twenty-two East to West, that’s a fact.

Enclosed in a concrete jungle,

In a suburb in a city near you,

Observing a complex labyrinth of mind-games,

My universe, a tomb with a view.

An existence of cluttered neurosis,

Order’d chaos inexorably ensues,

“RADIO TIMES” is my window, an oracle,

Television delivers my news.

Correspondence that’s filed and collated,

Each codex so meticulously placed

Alphabetical, numerical employment for one,

An environment hermetically chaste.

A germ-free haven to the human condition,

The scrunch of a newsprint floor,

Opinions one-sided, from the man in the mirror

The fear from a knock at the door.

Every day is an endless beginning

Countless dominoes toppling in haste,

Every echo a constant reminder

Of the time that I waste in this space.

I am the “Genie” inside of his bottle,

With the face peering ominously in,

I’m a prisoner to all my aversions

And the demons that scream from within.

By Michael Gardner

to ‘dot hi ‘i’ with a butterfly’ is Michael’s trademark.

Michael’s artistic trademark is to “dot his ‘i’ with a butterfly”, which I cannot do, so I said I would include an image of a butterfly and the request was for a Red Admiral.

Thank you Michael for sharing this with us.

(I will share any comments with him, if he would like me to, so feel free to comment.)


21 thoughts on “ALADDIN’S ROAD

  1. Thanks for sharing Michael’s poem. There appears to be nothing redeeming in his insular world: no light, no joy, no beauty. Only fear. Yet, Michael’s trademark to “dot hi ‘i’ with a butterfly” suggests his desire to break free and fly.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We hear about them on the news,
    and then we shrug and turn away
    from their lonely tombs with views
    to attend to our own day.
    We hear of lives slaved to despair
    that was not bought, but imposed,
    and we’d like to say we care,
    but the compassion shop is closed.
    And so they sadly linger on,
    in a room that’s measured out by paces
    until the last footfall is gone,
    forgetten like their names and faces
    and the unique gifts they had to give
    if afforded a small chance to live.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Such a bittersweet poem–beautifully written yet filled with the sadness. My heart aches for Michael, and I wonder if he knows Jesus, the One who promises new life, abundant and filled with joy ( 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 10:10; John 15:11).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My daughter spent some time in a mental institution, wrongly locked up because of a medical condition. It still haunts her to this day, but the prison in our heads is a greater threat. That’s something that God is slowly releasing me from, and I pray Michael will reach out to the Lord for the same release. Even just this week, He has done that for me. The Good Shepherd goes looking for the one. You can read about it here if you like:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing Kath. Release from strongholds and healing from traumas are lifetime journeys – but they are full of hope and it is a journey worth taking – for He who started that good work in us, will bring it to completion.


  5. I think Michael is smart and perceptive, but others don’t like to hear his observations because they don’t want to hear their reality painted as stark as it is…because they make-believe it to be prettier than it is. Yet, Michael states what is true, and they want to stop their ears from hearing truth.

    It made me wish Michael had access to a quiet country home full of peace, quiet and beauty.

    The city is a concrete jungle. We can find internal peace even there, but it would be nice to have less external chaos, if possible.

    I pray Michael knows the Creator of beauty, the Redeemer of mankind, the Prince of Peace, Everlasting One, and Friend. If he doesn’t know Him yet, I pray he meets Him soon. He is the kindest gentleman and the truest Friend ever.

    Thanks for sharing, Dawn!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry for Michael’s struggles and isolation, but also so blessed by his poetic talent and that he can express himself so well. I can relate to some of the images he paints, like fear and isolation. Being stuck in his room. I went through periods of time, and still sometimes do where I would be stuck in my room, feeling lost within my mind. So I certainly empathize with his path in life. I know it doesn’t feel like a path when you don’t feel like you’re physically moving forward. I hope and pray that he knows his worth and that he has so much to contribute to others lives. He has blessed my day with his poem. God bless Michael, and you as well, Dawn, for sharing some of Michael’s road.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tina, for your loving response.
      Michael is mainly very content with his life of his design. He, like all of us, has darker moments and lighter ones. He said he wrote the poem partly because he felt people kept wanting to fix him, which he doesn’t want, so he wanted to say how it was.
      Blessings to you. May you have many bright days full of joy and may you recall them in the tougher days. x


      • Thank you Dawn, I’m so glad that Michael is mainly very content with his life. 🙂 I’m glad that he doesn’t feel like he needs fixing. I read his poem wrong. I saw it as struggle and challenges. I went back and read it again from the perspective that he wrote it in. It makes his poem even more beautiful, unique and inspiring. He has challenges and darker moments but he also has things sorted the way that he wants them and needs them to be. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. A typically generous and humble response from you, Tina. Thank you for re-reading his poem.
    I don’t think you read it ‘wrong’ the first time.
    The point about any artwork (I believe) – e.g. paintings, music, poetry or prose – is that the audience interprets a piece created by the artist, as an interaction. One often does not see the original intent of the artist, but only a reflection through the lens of the viewer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s