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Archives: Earlier Essays, Commentary

From December '98

...On Existence, Pasts and Futures, and The Unbroken Circle

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 for another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
--Walt Whitman, Song of Myself fr. Leaves of Grass

The concept is embodied in phrases as disparate as 'no man is an island unto himself' 'what goes around comes around' the more esoteric (not to say elitist) notion that Kahlil Gibran espouses with the words ''That which sings and contemplates in you, is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment that scattered the stars into space".
Maybe because my personal belief system retains alot of 'development room', I waver along the spectrum of this concept. Still, as I reflect on Whitman's words from Song of Myself, I find that regardless of where my current thinking places me along that spectrum, I do always seem to take a certain comfort in the idea that all the people we have known and touched during our lives stay with us.
Moreover, that non-linear, giant circle of life influences includes all the more unfortunate incidents....those times when we touch the life of another negatively, or even indifferently.
All of which is to say that reading Song of Myself inspires me to remember that the 'song' is about more than me, and that actions don't exist in a vacuum.
Just a thought during this, the Season of generosity and renewal.

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