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Day 16: The Gardener, Self Reliance, and the Black Widow's Babies

In Ulvik by Jane Hirshfield

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

by Lucy Corin

In Ulvik Just read it. Consider the implications of having this kind of relationship to yourself from time to time...consider whether this loneliness, exists in you, too, or this yearning.

Self Reliance

I've heard it referenced a thousand times in my life. I've never actually read it. And today, I threw myself at it all day long. In spurts, but still. All day.

Some of the language was difficult for me to understand, merely because of my unfamiliarity with the syntax of the day. I had trouble following sentences like, "We do not yet see that virtue is Height, and that a man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to principles, by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities, nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not." Who are not what? Not plastic and permeable to principles? And still, I don't understand.

With this, I lay bare my own ignorance, and signal my desire for more time with this essay so I might truly let in its meaning. Would that I had a tutor to help me unpack it. But, um. Yeah. The title Self Reliance spurs me on to just let my own resonances speak and vibrate. Whatever works works. What doesn't doesn't. Per Emerson himself!

Cue this passage, one that fed exactly the part of me that needed to hear it, that for decades has needed to hear it:

"I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. 

Self Reliance was so dense and so rich, and so long, that I didn't get all the way through it today. (I mentioned in other posts that I'm a painfully slow reader.) Other duties took up some of the time. But I am allowing myself to revisit it tomorrow, to finish reading it through for the first of what I know will be many, many times. And I will say more about it tomorrow.

Miracles Fear, wonder, patience and the cold eye of destruction--all in this simple, potent story of a moment in a child's (could almost be any child's) life.


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