Song of Myself

Talking with my 84 year-old grandmother today reminded me of a poem. She expressed some of the things she’d learned in her life, and the staunchness with which she identifies herself and her beliefs really struck me. She has struggled at times in her life, and she has made mistakes. To this day, she has her flaws. (Ever so minor ones, Gramma dear.) Despite all that, she knows who she is and what she stands for with a certainty that seems etched in granite. Her earnest and simple desire to serve God and her family is impressive and incredibly humbling.

I can’t say the same about myself yet, but I hope to get there someday. I long for that degree of love for and confidence in myself and my choices. I believe everyone is plagued by a measure of self-doubt, but to me, one indication of a life well-lived is the ability to look back and feel equally comfortable with our successes as well as our failures. I want to be able to look back at my life and see that I was enough, that I wasn’t perfect, but that I contributed, played my part, and can rest with peace of mind.

So here, in a picture, a poem, and a song, is my definition of a well-lived life.

Gramma and Me

From Song of Myself, Stanza 20:

I exist as I am, that is enough,

If no other in the world be aware I sit content,

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,

And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,

I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite,

I laugh at what you call dissolution,

And I know the amplitude of time.

–Walt Whitman

My Way, by Paul Anka, covered by Frank Sinatra:

What’s your definition of a life well-lived? What inspires you to be your best self? Share in the comments!


As I Lay Me Down to Sleep…

The first feeling that registered as I broke the surface of consciousness was irritation. There are few sounds in this world I hate as much as a dog whining, and this was the intense, “the house is on fire and you need to wake up” kind of whine.

The house wasn’t on fire. But my poor dog was whining his head off. I couldn’t figure out why until I woke up just a little bit more and registered a second feeling: pain. The nightmare keeping me under must have been a doozy, because my bottom lip is chewed so raw that it resembles a manhandled package of ground beef. There’s blood all over my pillow, and my neck and chest are a maze of scratches from my perpetually-bitten nails.

I don’t remember any details of the dream that held me prisoner, but it must have been intense. Nightmares go hand in hand with my depressive phases, but as often as I have them, I generally stop short of maiming myself. Thank goodness for my doggy alarm clock. This isn’t the first time he’s gone to extremes to rescue me from dreamed danger.

We took a starry walk to clear our heads, and now we’re cuddled back in bed. And by “cuddled,” I mean that he’s stretched out over 98% of my bed’s surface area, and I’m huddled in a corner. I don’t mind– at least I know I’ll be safe, from threats both real and imagined. I’m not sure how I slept at all before my Woz came along.

Ozzie, Protector of the Dreaming