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Starting the Conversation

I have been seeking and gaining greater awareness of the Self, my self, my selves, through my entire adult life. I don’t consider this remarkable—no, it’s just natural.

I rarely think of the Self as a thing. Sometimes it seems like a story. Sometimes like a movie, or a song on the radio. It could be like the sound of a babbling brook, or the steam rising from a cup of tea. Sometimes it is like an inner argument, a struggle. Sometimes it seems like an intimate conversation.

What an interesting study!

What is the Self and how do we deploy it? Whitman makes such entertaining comment about this in “Song of Myself.” If you haven’t read that lengthy hymn-poem, I certainly recommend it. All this stuff sounds lofty, but am I also grounded.

Yep, I am: laundry, clean the toilet, grocery shopping, put gasoline in the car. Oh, sorry, petrol, benzene.

As I was preparing samples from my poetry book, I found the following introduction. Of course, it is geared toward the contents of the book, prospective readers, and so forth. However, I found it to be a very enduring expression of my sensibilities.


Introduction

Family, friends, a community of loving spirits bring a girl turning 15 to her quinceañera, and she emerges to be counted among women. The sky shimmers with excitement, even as her vulnerability is both cloaked and revealed in her stunning gown. A once-in-a-lifetime event.

But don’t we also come of age at other times, through other public and private moments? In these seasons the growing might be difficult, strained. It may involve loss, bewilderment, shock, embarrassment, or the seeming impossibility of hope. Or utter mystery. Or a jewel of discovery hidden inside the ordinary. A belly-laugh.

Is it a community of one, or a chorus of well wishers who buoy up our progress? First we’re tentative, now more hopeful . . . to venture, explore, then embody what and who we truly are. Can we trust this under-current, no matter how faintly we feel it, or even if it resembles a rip tide leading to a distant land with a tongue unknown to us?

If we are faithful to the arc of our awakenings, surrendering to all the seasons of our growth; in time, we find a celebration. In these moments, earth breathes a sigh. Mockingbirds sing out. Loved ones who know give a cheer.

It is a Summer of Quinceañeras!

October 2005


Then recently I was out and about, enjoying my life, simply as it is, in the moment. I can’t help myself, I do talk to myself and sometimes feel it is worth sharing in a conversation.

I walk. The earth greets my feet, offering its bass notes and all the substance of matter. I carry my ancestral strains, their hopes, dreams, failures, shames, scandals and more. Maybe I inherited debts and maybe I inherited riches, but I can play with all of these as they appear. My life force sings out through my desires. I am exalted by my divinity. Oh, what a time to walk and run, to dance and sigh, to pause and wonder, to seize and savor experiences.

What a joyful celebration.

Is it simply that I only have a few simple ideas about my life? Maybe.

OK, here we go again:

I want to enjoy every little difference among us: language, the music of our voices, the dance and rhythm of our gait, the sound of our step on a hard floor, on carpet, our dreams, whether proclaimed or unspoken, and our active initiatives.

While I celebrate the richness of these unique expressions, I also seek to transcend these differences through the human heart, to find and honor the oneness.

Is this lofty pie in the sky? I hope it is lofty. If it is pie, I know I want to sit down and enjoy it with partners in the celebration.

How can we do this? Where do we start?

Let’s start with a simple conversation.

What is on your mind and in your heart?

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