Thursday, March 31

sure as the most certain sure

earlier this week, as a break between quizzing myself on analogies and quantitative comparisons, I dipped myself into Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. yes, yes, I do know that they shelve poetry in the nonfiction section. does that make it boring? no. it doesn't. not all nonfiction is boring. just most of it.

anyway--I started with the famous 'Song of Myself.'
Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
       — Walt Whitman
it's proud stuff. there are a dozen other sections I would love to quote. I took the title of my post today from part 3, line 12. I love the beginning of part 5 and all the poignant images in part 8. you start to get this idea of the poet encompassing all things--somehow on the inside and the outside and underside of every little smidgen of the world, taking time to marvel and wonder and question. and he writes all of it down in this lengthy, sensual free verse, just so the rest of us can put out our fingertips and touch at least one thin layer of what it feels like to be so full.

the whole poem makes me want to go sit outside in a big empty field and spend the afternoon looking at things, digging around in my heart to find a place and a description for them all.
how long would that take me?

I came across this today. it's a guy named Austin Kleon doing what he calls talking to a previous version of himself. Mr. Kleon quotes Goethe:  “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” and then he talks about shaping and fashioning our own selves in the creative work we do. "In my experience, it’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are." that's quite a beautiful, cyclical idea. I am shaped and I am shaping, all at the same time, in discovery of who I am and what I mean. in creating something new I can sort of recreate myself? all the the blank paper I surround myself with, and all the stories I spill onto it, all the scrawling lines and curls in the margins... all of that together becomes a frame for everything that is me?

and all Whitman's proud vision? all his rolling mesh of observation and introspection? that is a frame for who he was. and it still is, even though he died in 1892. I guess whatever we spend time creating will leave behind a shadow of who we have been. that's what we're all doing here, after all. we are creating ourselves.

an impossibly amazing person told me recently that the person I am is easy to see in all my sketches. I've waited my whole life to hear someone say that to me and for it to be really, deeply true.

was it?

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