These are the days…

“These are the days that must happen to you…”
– Walt Whitman

When I entered college 30 years ago this fall, I quickly became a Walt Whitman groupie. I thought that his poetry spoke to me in a way that nothing ever spoke to me before. I could recite a lot of it, and often sat for hours reading and re-reading and wishing to be just like him. Also at that time in my life, I was drunk a lot. I didn’t want to be responsible for my own life, my own feelings, and the consequences that occurred from my own choices. I wanted to run away from the world. If I’m honest with myself now, that was really what attracted me to Walt Whitman. I wanted to be a rebel, like he was. I wanted to run away into nature and sing songs to myself. I wanted to appreciate and love myself, in spite of how other people felt about me. Walt Whitman did that with his poetry. I wanted to do that, too.

Unfortunately thirty years ago, I was far from being ready – or able – to sing songs to myself. I was a world away from liking myself, let alone loving myself. I really had no idea what Walt Whitman was all about. In fact, I wonder now if I really learned much of anything during those days of drunkenness and irreverence. This morning, when I realized it is the day Walt Whitman was born, I thought I’d write a blog piece on one of my favorite lines of his. I couldn’t remember one! I sat for a long while and thought about it. I became rather annoyed with myself that nothing was coming to mind (except for the few lines Robin Williams “YAWPed” in Dead Poets Society). My inability to draw up from my own library of learning even one of his quotes from those college days validated what I wondered about earlier in this paragraph – I really didn’t learn much of anything in those days!

So, I Googled “Walt Whitman Quotes.” As I paged through quote after quote, I couldn’t believe the absolute beauty and reality I was reading. I realized I need to purchase some of Walt’s writings and re-read them today, with a sober brain. He wasn’t a rebel like I remembered him to be. He was a rebel like Martin Luther King, Jr. was a rebel – he spoke the truth that most people just didn’t want to hear. He spoke his truth, which in essence, is what I have always wanted to do with my writing!

I chose the quote that begins this blog entry for one simple reason: I needed to be reminded today that “These are the days that must happen to you…” I have no explanation – and truly do not need one – for why the stuff that happens to me happens. All I really need to know is that these are the days that must happen to me.

I wonder how much more I must have missed along the way!

Happy 199th Birthday, Walt Whitman. Thank You, God, for reconnecting me with this beautifully created child of Yours.

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