Development Plan

entry picture

When my line manager

asks me about my development plan

and where I see myself

in one, three or five years time


I begin to think how in a year

I would like to be painting watercolours

beside a mountain stream

somewhere in the Bavarian Alps


in three years eating cantaloupe

and drinking black coffee

on an early morning

in a European city I don't yet know

reading the final pages of

In Search of Lost Time

or Alan Moore's Jerusalem

or any other book I've told

people I've read over the years

but never have.


While in five years,

well who knows about five years,

but perhaps immersed

in a course of silent retreat

in an attempt to finally evaporate the ego

and nullify the self


but I don’t say this

or the likely truth,

that I will still be at this desk

looking at it’s same view

of car park, clouds and birds

just as I was one, three

and five years ago...


Instead I blow the dust

off a well practiced script,

a fudge of corporate maxims

personal development speak,

that ensures I am defining a personal vision

to become fully self actualised

at some point in the future


and while doing so begin to notice

a part of myself close off,

as if the inner being that we associate

with our true self

(what the Buddhists call the Atman

Or the One True Self)

can no longer bear to listen

and has clocked off


instead I have begun

to recall something I read

about the Atlantic Salmon,

who in the course of a 6,000 mile life journey

spends his last years on the planet

swimming 200 miles upstream

in order to spawn in the waters

where he once started


or the North American wood Frog

who survives sub zero winters

with only the antifreeze

of urinary waste to warm him


and then there’s the common swift,

who travels three thousand miles

to winter in the warm winds of North Africa

and then, in one nature's seemingly more

pointless displays of survival,

returns the following spring.

◄ This Morning

Cafe Window ►


Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Tue 28th May 2019 22:49

Pipe-dreams don't always end up in smoke - and occasionally we CAN escape! But happiness (or my preferred aim: contentment) - is
often in the acceptance of what we already have in our lives and in
the exercise of improving it.

Profile image

jennifer Malden

Sun 26th May 2019 20:10

Great poem, and so many of us have perhaps seen ourselves mirrored in it. Run while you still can!


Profile image

Martin Elder

Sun 26th May 2019 18:52

I am totally with you in this one Tom. I can get so easily distracted and lost in other things away from what I might set out to do with time off as I am currently whilst being off sick. There is a book of poems to prepare and a book to finish. But am I doing it nah.

Great poem Tom
Love it

Profile image

Tom Harding

Sun 26th May 2019 17:22

thanks all...

I've not had my reggie perrin moment yet Dave, all though i have had some weeks recently which have made me want to walk into the sea.

thanks Ray, I agree, the cure often is simple craft work... I'm not sure how I'd manage the monday to friday life if I didn't have the escape of poetry and other endeavours to come home to.

Profile image


Sun 26th May 2019 16:41

I was thinking of Winston Smith shredding the past Tom and mulling over some purpose in an Orwellian world, admittedly brought up to date. The answer may lie in simple craftwork, or just lie fallow under a false guise as you imply. The innate lifestyle of different species is a clever point to make - implying that where choice comes in we tend to sink into oblivion of a noble kind (in a paroxysm of self delusion. It's always a pleasure to read your work as it never forces a point home.

I'll get my coat.


Profile image

Don Matthews

Sat 25th May 2019 23:26

I like this Tom

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message