I am a teacher.
Recently, I copied and pasted one of those Facebook posts penned by an anonymous author. This one resonated with me because it spoke to the ways people live complicated lives.
The post began
For all of you who aren't sure, it is possible to be...
From there, the writer lists the binaries inherent in each person and concludes
We are all walking contradictions of what 'normal' looks like. Let humanity love and win.
Walt Whitman has something to say about this idea that we are walking, talking contradictions in "Song of Myself," from Leaves of Grass:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
As much as it is a celebration of the spirit of individualism, "Song of Myself" also offers tribute to the multitudes that live and dwell and work and play in the United States of America.
It is possible to be an individual, and it is possible to be part of e pluribus unum. We are literally "from many one." That idea embodies the American paradox, that seemingly self-contradictory ideal that expresses an essential truth about our nation.
I find it fitting that Whitman chooses to add the lines about being a contradiction toward the end of "Song of Myself." They are in section 51 of 52!
To find ourselves, our national identity, we need only look to Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
We should not lose sight of Whitman's words. We are all, regardless of party affiliation, religion, racial identity, gender, occupation, or other, part of the grass, the fiber of America if we call this place home.
And Whitman admonishes us to lift our voices as the embodiment of contradictions, the containers of multiples:
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
I contain multitudes.
I am a teacher.
And each time I lift my voice, I speak as myself and the totality of my experiences with each student I've known.
|March marks the month-long Slice of Life Story Challenge.Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers team for sponsoring this month's challenge and for promoting the writing life.|