The hardest battle

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.                                                                           – ee cummings


Last month, the editor of my next poetry collection sent me her first edits. Most were spot on; a few I pushed against. One stopped me in my tracks.

About half-way through the manuscript, I read:

Something I notice throughout this collection is ego – it’s not a bad thing, but I am not used to seeing a speaker so happy with themselves, proud and aware of it. 

After a few deep breaths, I realized what a compliment this is. Of course I’m happy with myself! In some poems where the speaker is obviously me – and there are many voices throughout the book –  I journey from a scared, stuttering kid filled with blue collar shame to a confident woman who says she doubts nothing and everything. If happily asserting who I am and what I believe is ego, so be it.

My response was simply: Why wouldn’t I want to write about the importance of becoming the person we were born to be?

I haven’t heard back yet. In the meantime, I find inspiration in the wise words of those who know that importance.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life.      – Nietzsche

People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing.   – Laura Riding

The true and durable path into and through experience involves being true … to your own solitude, true to your own secret knowledge.  – Seamus Heaney                                                                                

Here’s to each of us for who are happy with the True Selves we’ve become. May we continue to be proud and aware!

 

7 Comments

  1. Good thing God let me live this long or I never could have come to that conclusion. It takes time, risk, resilience, positive experiences with human feedback, and finally knowing you are doing your best though the plan/ efforts may not have the outcome intended. I think developing the ability to appreciate all the small things in this world that can bring happiness makes for a happy life. Your poetry uplifts or provokes the spirit as an example. Thank you Carolyn!!

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  2. With the world trying so hard to convince us we’re not good enough, too fast or too slow, we should all pass by that mirror in our bathroom, stop, point at the person staring back at us and say at the top of outr voices “YOU’RE WORTH IT” Things you say and do matter and true success is owning it! Nobody can take it from you. Ego??? You betcha baby! I own it!!

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