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Song of Myself

"If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles..."

In one of my previous blog posts, I mentioned how my best friend (a former English lit teacher and an amazing poet in his own right) had given me a book of poetry for Christmas last year and how the gift wasn't really the book, but the time he committed (and subsequently gave) to me as we read it together. Well, we finished it a couple months ago and decided to keep the weekly poetry club going; we are now reading Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. We just finished the poem, "Song of Myself" yesterday... And what a beautiful poem it is!

The end was one of the most breathtaking endings I've ever read of any genre, but it was that way because of the journey Whitman took us on as the poem meandered about. I'm not sure if he intended it, but for me the climax of the poem was the end. I had a lump in my throat as I read it and I probably could have bawled tears of joy (I didn't, but I may have had a tear or two in my eye).

Yesterday evening I stood barefoot in the grass and thought about Whitman's words:

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,

But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,

Missing me one place search another,

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

I've always been fascinated with death, what happens during the dying process, and what lies beyond. I don't think I'm dark or morbid or anything, but it's interesting to me. I used to fear death, but over the years, I've come to accept it as just another part of life. I might be a little (ok, maybe a lot) scared of dying a painful death, but other than that, death itself doesn't frighten me. I related to Whitman in this regard; I also love how he doesn't accept death, but as a continuation of life but in a different form. We're never apart from our loved ones (or things) that are no longer visible; they're everywhere if we'll only look. Everything in the universe is everywhere. How freaking cool is that thought?

I also think about the things I have going on in my life right now; not crazy by most standards, but I feel pressure... It's self-inflicted, but it's pressure nonetheless. Work is busy (but manageable), I've been feverishly working on Christmas gifts (2020 is a "crafty" Christmas, FYI), I am starting work on the 2021 budget for church (I recently assumed the treasurer role there), and I just took on a pretty significant personal project that should eat away at all my free time over the next few weeks (the yarn will have to be put down for a while). I'm ok with all of this, but I know that unless I'm REALLY deliberate about it, I'll overlook the beauty of life and let the busy-ness consume me. I need to not do that. I need to not do that. I need to not do that...

If I took anything from this foray into the mind and soul of Whitman, it's that everything I do is connected to everything that was ever done. And because of that, none of it is overwhelming and yet, everything is. I need to keep my eyes open over these next few weeks in particular, and be purposeful in my work and rest so that I can find and experience that connection that I need so desperately - that everyone needs so desperately - to everything around me. And if I can't find it, I need to keep looking because I know it's there. It's always there; right under my nose (feet).

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