Having posted a couple of photos of leaves in the previous blog it set me to thinking about other leaves and epiphanal moments in a person’s life.
One such moment for me was when I was about fourteen or so and came in the form of a book titled Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
It blew me away as I had never heard or read words strung together in such a way and I couldn’t get enough of it.
The book was a gift and I have it to this day, somewhat worse for wear due to nights by campfires and the many places it has been, but also the familiarity of having been through it’s pages countless times.
I say an epiphany as it showed me the value of books and reading, and at times this reading of books becomes vehicles of fanciful flights of imagination and can help to crystallize one’s thoughts.
Something that blurred the reality of life as my family and I knew it, but also instilled an understanding that truths have a certain universality about them and the importance of being you own person.
No greater truths have been spoken about my people than those spoken by our own – there exists a personal nature to personal experience, yet such experiences can and often are shared by others – the same can be said of hopes and aspirations, personal and shared as no man, woman, or child is an island unto themselves.
Shared experiences produce a common understanding regardless of ethnicity or geographical location – they are in a very real sense a universal language.
A hungry child is a hungry child notwithstanding any other consideration – abuse, poverty, oppression, and suffering have the same sting, there should be a universal understanding of this.
We live where we live, we experience those things we experience, yet the knowledge that others do as well should lead to a global awareness, a global concern even if in the midst our own travails we cannot remedy those of others.
We cannot ask for our voice to be heard if do not hear the voices of others, nor can any ask for help if they would not help another.
As a people, as nations, we have lost a great deal, much of which we will never recover – but if we are to say we are all related we cannot lose our concern for others who share the same miseries.
To paraphrase Whitman take your hat off to no one if it is a gesture of subservience, be fluent, stalwart in defense of equity and justice, vocal in confronting what is the antithesis of that, and strive to fashion your life into leaves worthy of being read by others.
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ― Walt Whitman