Jack (Ode to a Curious Life)

Written by Jack O’Connor

Just north of one Port Phillip Bay,

water and eyes an ocean hew;

a newborn child took breath that day,

his life had begun new.

Jack was his name, of Irish line,

before a century’s debut;

and so we start our steep incline,

into a world fresh and new.

In youth obsessed with plants and birds,

endless novels to purview;

‘Velociraptor’ recorded in first words,

cataloguing species ancient and new.

Though social tact was… sadly missed,

into curiosity I grew;

mind set on palaeontologist,

parents set on pathways new.

See, I lived amongst a clan,

with no science or art in view;

to them, fossils doom career plan,

for stability, choose something new.

Architecture sang of flair, of mind,

a job which could accrue;

so from there out the choice behind,

would nature stage a mental coup?

Walls of empty canvas boxed me in,

as a cage could surround you;

past building sketches came sound thin,

toward it my attention drew.

It spoke of colour, of shades, of light,

a hope I could strive to;

pushing past the shades of white,

with renewed strength I drew.

A canvas is a spotless board,

creation limitations few;

and nature’s inspiration soared,

open, the curtains drew.

Clouds danced from my frenzied keys,

whilst digital mountains grew;

graphic design I found with ease,

inward, the breath I drew.

I pioneered my PowerPoint art,

its boundaries I slew;

it drew me back to the start,

 for nature, for life, I drew.

Now drawn back to life extinct,

I summoned all I knew;

to reach my course I hardly blinked,

and presto! Now uni to go through.

I fought hard to convince my kin,

pushed my scores to ensue;

to learn each phylum, limb, and fin,

and reach the point I wanted to.

Global Challenges was now my course,

a unique science avenue;

but the imposter wave’s a mighty force,

a wall I’d run into.

I tutored classes, devised promotion,

with talented peers to live up to;

I volunteered, scanned the ocean,

searching fields to break into.

SciComm brought me to the stage,

my creative side felt déjà vu;

I finally started to turn the page,

a stable road I could look to.

Study flew me ‘across the ditch’,

Pukaha internship held me true;

then a Malaysia exchange was my pitch,

avian linguistics I strove to.

Nine months were planned for over there,

I ended up with weeks two;

fate seemed to not be playing fair,

with a virus worse than any flu.

Trapped overseas as the world shut down,

bird research? Off it flew;

here settled a constant frown,

as I struggled with what’s true.

My network helped us to escape,

I helped the students through;

I spoke our way through miles of tape,

then a flight home heading true.

That year would spiral, lost its shine,

trapped inside like fly to glue;

my mental health would soon decline,

couldn’t tell the false from true.

Now as we open, I lose reserve,

growing to nature like bamboo;

deciding which I should conserve,

including me… had to be true.

I now head a SciComm group,

with my Honours near in view;

my brain no longer feels like soup,

this part of life feels true.

Just north of one Port Phillip Bay,

water and eyes an ocean hew;

a young man breathes today,

a curious life he’d still pursue.

My name is Jack O’Connor, and I am a 22 year-old Zoology and Conservation Biology undergraduate hailing from Melbourne, Australia.

I want to thank you for your perusal of this ode that has been sitting in my head for quite a time. Poetry has always spoken to me as a more complete way of passing the depth of my feelings on, and I hope that this provided an interesting (and possibly thoughtful) retelling of my story.

I wish you all a safe, sane, and serene slide through this wonderful world.

For more of Jack, check out @_jack.oconnor_ on Instagram

Jessie Panazzolo

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Hi! I am the founder of Lonely Conservationists and I am a proud conservationist conservationist- someone who works to save those who are saving the world 🌍

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