The time will come when, with elation
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the others welcome,
And say, sit here.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
By Derek Walcott
My friend Sally sent me this poem several month ago. I take it as a message to make peace with oneself. Before we forgive others, we must forgive ourselves.
Another version of this theme is found in a jingle my mom taught to me when I left her house one day. It goes like this:
I’ve gone out to look for myself, if I should return before I get back, keep me here.
And finally a quote by David Bowie:
Aging is an extraordinary process whereby
You become the person you always should have been.”
I like David’s quote because we race through life trying to figure out what we want to be and do when we grow up, only to realize that our true selves were within us all the time. I like to relive the idyllic aspects of my childhood and re-create them whenever I can. Things like chasing butterflies and collecting crickets for that much loathed science project you had to do at the beginning of every school year. I hated jabbing those pins into the thoraces of those poor insects and sticking them on cardboard poster board. Egads! then you had to label them. I went back to chasing butterflies instead and looking at wildflowers in the field, and consequently failed the school assignment. I’m happy I failed, because to this day I can come back to myself and the child that lives within, and say:
This is who I was, this is who I am. GRB
Robin Wall Kimmerer in her book “Braiding Sweetgrass” (2013 Milkweed Editions, Canada) incorporates indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge to teach us about the world of plants. Her writing is poetic and like a prayer or chant, gently guides the reader through her prophetic thought. In the chapter called ‘Three Sisters’ Robin explains the relationship of beans, corn and squash as they grow together in the garden. When the English came to the New World they were perplexed by the native’s tendency to grow their plants in groupings instead of rows. As it turned out these groupings were based on the native’s experience that together, plants such as beans, corn and squash, flourish in a symbiotic relationship, and engage and share nutrients with their roots in the soil. Their reciprocal communication evolves naturally once their seeds grow to form vertical foliage, and flowers and fruits. They eventually not only give to each other but to the planter who inserted them in the earth to begin with. As an example, plants need nitrogen to grow and the nitrogen provided by the air isn’t enough so beans, characteristic of legumes, reaching into the sky, have the ability to draw nitrogen down into the soil benefitting not only them but the corn and squash that share their space. The beauty of the Three Sisters, represented in color by green for beans, yellow for corn and orange for squash is also founded in a native legend which describes how when the people were dying of hunger three beautiful women came to visit the village in colored garb. Symbolically they represented the three plants that eventually fed the people and saved them from famine. Kimmerer goes on to explain that each of the vegetables alone does not provide the necessary nutrients for a complete meal, but when eaten together, provide the perfect balance of vitamins and nutrients needed for a balanced diet. Kimmerer’s writing exudes positivity and the virtue of Simplicity. In a prior chapter called “Epiphany in the Beans’ she begins with a quote: It came to me while picking beans, the secret of happiness. I realized from this quote that our everyday living entangles us in rushing around and overthinking, when if we would just slow down we can find the joy in the simple things. This may be getting off track a tad but the same idea came to me when I was at the grocery store packing my groceries. Feeling at peace with myself, I looked up at the cashier and said to her: “This is going to sound crazy to you but I really like to pack groceries.” She agreed it was a mindless task. Anyway, back to topic, the next time I go to the store I will be sure to load up on scrumptious greens beans, yellow corn, and orange squash to bring home for my next feast. In the meantime I shall carry on my reading of “Braiding Sweetgrass” as I know it’s bound to be filled with more, and greater wisdom.