Friday, October 10, 2014

Reflections on "Song of Myself"

I had to look up the word "kelson" because I didn't know it.  Turns out it is a beam in a wooden boat that runs the length of the vessel and holds the boards of the hull in place.

Yes, I think, Love does hold all the pieces in place.  Self love, and the love we give to others, and the love we receive from others.

Before I read this poem, I thought that in essence, we are in fact the sum of our parts.  All my life experiences, everything that has happened to me in my forty years, all the people I have loved, lost, hated, barely known - I thought, and still do think to some extent, that these things made me who I am.  I have been thinking a lot lately about my marriage, my long relationship with my husband, how we grew into adults together, made each other into the people we are now.  How we have made our daughter into the person she is now.  That's a lot of responsibility, to think that you have such an important role in the formation of the self of another.  I can't help but wonder how I would be different if I had made different choices, how my daughter would be different, how Husband would be different, how my life and our lives would be different.  Is there something inside me that deserves the recrimination I feel for shuffling us all into the current disarray?

Who is my true self?  What is the entity which
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its sidecurved head, curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it. 

Whitman says in his poem
The other I am must not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

 I wonder if I have been letting that Other me, the one that is made of my relationships with the world, drive my life, and I have not been listening to my True Self, the one that whispers to me when I am walking in the woods or sitting quietly in contemplation.  Do we all ignore our True Selves in favor of the masks, the separate identities we wear?  Is that why after years and years of being The Wife, The Mother, The Daughter, I finally found myself flailing about completely unmoored, drowning in an ocean of shoulds that I can't even remember jumping into?  I had to go on medicine to keep from killing myself.  It was awful, for me, for Husband, for Daughter... For everyone. And then it got better. And then ...

I'm learning to be human, one day at a time.  Walt Whitman clearly knew the depths of his own humanity, and his poem is one shrine on the faneway of self discovery.

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