Walt Whitman understood that sometimes people need a sense of complete unity with the Universe, even us 150 years after his time. In one of Whitman’s epic poems, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the first section addresses us: “And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, that you might suppose.” He thought of us as he watched the crowds of people on that ferry. How awesome that he understood the interconnectedness of all — past, present, and future!
He sought connections because he knew at times he was not so close to others. He sees people at one point as “curious,” odd, different, but then in the next instance calls on his heart to reestablish significance. In the second section of the poem, he sees the unity of nature and man-made constructs, joined through the energy that ties all things together. Just listen:
“The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day, / The simple, compact, well-joined scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme…The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them, / The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.”
In this section Whitman refers to people watching the shipping activities, seeing the islands, and enjoying the rush of the tide and glow of the sunset, establishing relationships between these elements and bringing it all back again to us: “Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, …A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them…It avails not, time nor place — distance avails not, / I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence…” Eternal connections based on our abilities to perceive eternal spirit in all things — a grand, unified scheme!
If we are down and despairing because we seem alone and disconnected, we can know this whole universe is here for us, even the buildings of the city: “You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers…”
If we understand this scheme, we can reject the rationalization of ego that would say, “No, you are alone. None of this belongs to you!” Shut up, Ego. I will respond with Walt about life all around us: “We receive you with free sense at last…we plant you permanently within us…we love you — there is perfection in you also, / You furnish your parts toward eternity, / Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.”
Look around you. It’s all here for us, all you can sense. Eternal Spirit is in everything around us to nourish our souls! We are here, Whitman was here, for one another!
“What is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face? / Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you? / We understand then, do we not?”
I hope so!
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!