This episode is Josh Hatcher reading his poem “Validation”
Available on Amazon as a part of his book American Poetry: Poems for a Wounded Nation
Young man. Old man.
You want validation.
To have a rubber stamp on your forehead to confirm what you think is true.
Ink on paper, in your skin. Knowing nods. Framed sheepskin. Lifted pickups.
No man is an island. No man is a rock.
I understand you want the whole to acknowledge you. To recognize you. To give you honor, even in the slightest.
But no man can give you
What must come from you.
Father’s fears cut deep.
Mother’s tears burn hot.
Family ties that bind can be a blessing, or can hang heavy like a millstone.
To the depths.
To the depths.
I’ll tell you what you need to hear.
Even if it is not what you want to hear.
No words can impart what your own lips are due.
Honor is sometimes bestowed upon a man. Like an olive wreath, a medal pinned chest-high,
A “good job” or “atta-boy” thrown in for good measure.
But that honor is cheap. Those who have received it know its worth.
Often those with a shoulder pat, or a trophy case know the truth.
The trinkets, the shiny silver badges, the lipstick marks on their cheek, are not the honor itself.
Son. Your honor, your validation flows from a spring inside you.
It bubbles over, born in determination…
building pressure from discipline..
By the time it even sees sky, enough to glint in the sun and catch an eye, it has been guided along underground tunnels of consistency and persistence.
Then, it flows out. Gets noticed. Gets recognized.
“I just want someone to notice… to tell me I am what I am.”
Son. Maybe you are not who you are, yet.
All I can say is that if you want honor, you must recognize its source is in you.
Clear the muddied well. Clean the paths of discipline. And do not stop.
So that your own ears can hear.
“I am a man. I am enough. I am good.
I will train myself. I will persist. I will be a victor.”
Son. That is all the validation that you need.