The Snail

SnailThe New Life experience is all about seeing life in a different way. A lot of it is about finding the authentic self within us and learning how to deal with the external world in a new and more healthy way. It’s quite a journey of insight and emotion and leads to some thought-provoking moments along the way. Not only this, when we look around us, we find that the journey often leads back to ourselves, as can be seen from this beautiful poem by a New Life resident.

The Snail

Today, I was cleaning the meditation hall and I saw a snail, diligently making his or her way across the vastly wide floor.
“Oh, Snail!” I thought, eyes filling with tears,
“How can you be alive? You can’t have been like this for long.”
Because the snail had no shell.
Only a small, smooth base where it’s home had sat.
And I cried. Heart, breaking for this tiny creature who, surely, would not survive the night.

But I’ve been doing this self-improvement lark long enough, now, to know: if a snail makes me cry, it’s not really the snail I’m crying for.
And I knew right.
Because, though the snail was sad, I cried for myself and for all of us here who are traveling thousands of miles, in and outside of ourselves, now without our shells.

We took them off; put them down; the things that seemed to keep us safe: drugs, food, processes that’d, before, numbed us of the pain we’d felt since being tiny.
We built our own houses, our own outer-arms to hold us when, perhaps, parents had not.
Built walls, barracks, trick trenches to keep away the world that brought so much distress.
Or, maybe, we made armor so that, even if we were amongst the chaos, we couldn’t feel it.

Some point, though, I imagine we all decided enough was enough, time to live-bare.
Cold turkey, raw and open.
Homeless in terms of what we’d known, before, would keep us safe.
Maybe some have houses, families, career ladders to step back onto in a while.

Maybe some do not.
So we sit, shoulders still, hearts more bared than ever and whisper “bring it on”.
Life being the “it”, here.
Life un-numb, with all we’ve run from forever.
And, now, we are the tiny creatures scared we won’t survive the night.
Trusting, tentatively, that this place with its gongs, halls and dozens of hands to hold will help us.
Thank you, snail.
You made clear to me the bravery I witness every single day I’m here.
Thank you, all of you, I could not be shell-less alone.
And, thanks to New Life, I don’t have to be.

– Poppy Hopes, October 2013



  1. Thank you Poppy for writing down your thoughts and feelings and sharing it with the NLF community. I am so thankful that I will be at New Life end of January — in a volunteer capacity to start — for a few weeks and am so looking forward to it. “The Snail” is beautiful.

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