Logically, I should not spend another night exploring Walt Whitman. If I were writing a syndicated column once a week, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, I guess. Part of my personal truth, however, is my Heart provides the motive force to my being, and I follow my Heart’s prompts — when my Ego doesn’t scramble the signals!
That is not the case tonight as I have spent some time today reading and pondering Walt’s “A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads.” This piece of prose provides a wonderful, unique, inspiring view of not only the development and impact of his major life work, Leaves of Grass, but also it gives us insight into the self-analysis of one awakened to Heart. Even though it is powerful and I could develop this into an academic analysis, I am going to grab parts that speak directly to me, that could have been me writing. No academics here — only Heart-analysis.
I have extracted some principles of developing, knowing, and evolving a framework of personal truth I referred to yesterday and many other times.. Not many such complete records of analysis exist of one who comes to know Self, awakens to Heart, and carries out created Purpose and Vision — at least not ones who have become so well known as Walt Whitman.
My process of development of personal truth parallels Walt’s in many ways; however, it is personal truth, so none of us will ever have the same experience. I am not pretending my work is the same caliber as his; in fact, it may be far worse or better. It’s interesting that he knew from his contemporaries that his work, as far as financial and critical success, were failures. So, who knows? I have different intentions and purposes fro my work, in one way.
On to Walt Whitman’s explanation in “A Backward Glance.” He had experienced what I describe as the whisperings of Heart since childhood, as I have: “After years of those aims [pursuing other jobs and possible career paths] and pursuits, I found myself remaining possess’d, at the age of thirty-one to thirty-three, with a special desire and conviction…” (444). With a much fuller consciousness, he recognized, addressed, and awakened to his Heart.
As he embarked on his journey, he developed and crystallized his thoughts, emotions, and experiences into Purpose and Vision: “…a desire had been flitting through my previous life, or hovering on the flanks, mostly indefinite hitherto, and steadily advanced to the the front and defined itself, and finally dominated everything else” (444). He had to call the Purpose into being, create it, or he could have crumbled into Ego whisperings that the scope of his Purpose was too unbelievable to even attempt.
Many cave at this point, because when we know who we really are, when see the scope and power of our ability to create and the eternal possibilities of actions here on earth, that is daunting to Ego, which recognizes a total Self investment in our own created Purpose. Ego can’t accept such a proposition of nonconformity.
With his awakening and creation of his Purpose, he developed a Vision of what that might look like: “This was a feeling or ambition to articulate and faithfully express in literary or poetic form, and uncompromisingly, my own physical, emotional, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic Personality, in the midst of, and tallying, the momentous spirit and facts of its immediate days, and of current America…” (444). Pretty distinct Vision, isn’t it? What does it require? Total devotion of Self to Purpose and Vision.
Allow me to recap, briefly, the scenario the Good Gray Poet, Walt Whitman, shares in this. By the way, these are my relatively unrevised impressions — raw, unfiltered, but evident. At some point, I may do some revision, but for tonight, here are some elements of developing a scheme of personal truth.
3. Find encouragement and joy in Heart and those in the fellowship of the Heart who truly support you:
(a.) Heart lets us know we are doing it our way: “…unstopp’d and unwarp’d by any influence outside the soul within me” (444).
(b.) Friends: “…the best comfort of the whole business (after a small band of the dearest friends and upholders ever vouchsafed to man or cause…” (443).
4. Do not fear to put Heart-work out into the public arena, the Universe itself, with no thought of the value of it: “…put it unerringly on record — the value thereof to be decided by time” (444). No matter what Ego-prompted others say about the value or lack thereof in your Purpose and Vision, do it.
5. Acknowledge and know those who are impacted by the Vision, no matter what the numbers are: “I consider the point that I have positively gain’d a hearing, to far more than make up for any and all other lacks and withholdings” (444). Value those who enter into the light and love of your Purpose and Vision. You make a difference.
6. Hold and act on faith in Purpose and Vision, that your intentions are of Heart and acceptable to the Universe, no matter what one other person knows or thinks: “Essentially, that was from the first, and has remain’d throughout, the main object. …Candidly and dispassionately reviewing all my intentions, I feel that they were creditable — and I accept the result, whatever it may be” (444).
Walt looks over thirty years of acting on Purpose and his Vision. He sums up his investment, revealing elements that made up his personal truth, which gave him a framework to live his life without regard to Ego-valuation or -response to his work. Not a bad framework for us to consider.
What is the outcome, the result of this? Who we are (Heart-identity), what we do (Purpose), and how we do it (Vision) matter, mean something, bless Spirit, the Universe, and fellow human beings. Walt’s words illustrate this sentiment: “‘Leaves of Grass’ …has mainly been the outcropping of my own emotional and other personal nature — an attempt, from first to last, to put a Person, a human being…freely, fully and truly on record” (454). Have we put our core Self on a full record in this world?
Blessings when thirty, forty, or fifty years from now, you may say the same!
(All quotes: Whitman, Walt. Complete Poetry and Selected Prose by Walt Whitman. Ed. James E. Miller, Jr. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959. Print.)
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!