Long have you timidly waded
Holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea,
Rise again, nod to me, shout,
And laughingly dash with your hair.
–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer ...
Who stole your passion? Who extinguished the light in your eyes? What accumulation of tragic events and dreary circumstances have led to the fire being doused from your soul?
Knees to pavement, you’re shuffling along. Pebbles, sharp gravel, hardened gum stick to your hands and feet. Inhale dust. You smile gratefully, dog-like, when someone throws you a bone. Greedily you scavenge, bury it in dirt. Miser’s glint. Empty shell. Walking dead.
But my dear, you were born with a song. Out of the darkness of the womb you came singing it, eyes flooded with light. As a child your song was your rhythm. Hopscotch jump, twirls in front of mommy’s mirror, bathtime boogies. The song that breathed you into being pumped blood into your soul. Every tiny step, from the trembling first, was a note. Shadow puppet theatre, construction paper jungles, Crayola landscapes. You were all aglow, colourful, glistening with the joy and passion of life.
But life … it got to you, as it does us all. Somewhere in your history, someone told you to please shut up, I’m busy. Sit still. Be quiet. Settle down. An elder’s reprimand or any degree of abuse or the weighty sadness and injustice of the world told you your song was too loud or different or not good enough and you learned to curb it, hide it, change it, destroy it.
Of course you grew up and matured and let go of certain things and became tall and capable and beautiful. But your song dulled into a whisper only sung in the privacy of the shower or scarcely heard above the clink of dishes in the sink. You learned to bow. Acquiesce. Pull your pretty petals back into yourself closer and tighter.
You wake up dreading the day. You wake up to grey skies: is this all there is? and pull the covers over your head. You wake up to blinding sunlight and resent the bouncy step and cheery hellos of everyone around you. You eat and eat but are never full. Exercise is a form of torture. Work is a punch-in, punch-out process. People are a nuisance, traffic is a nightmare, finding joy in anything is not as easy as finding the trouble.
Afraid to make waves, you timidly hold your plank by the shore, mouth zipped shut. Zombie slumber.
And it is costing you everything.
the sun is out, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you
Darling, I will you to wake up and dive in to the big sea of life. Find your song and sing it like a songbird waiting for morning. It will come. It will come. I urge you to open yourself up to the grand orchestra and let it strike a chord right down to your core.
Prophesy to yourself: Dry bones, I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
You have no excuse. Circumstances may have hurt you, events may have beaten you down, people may have crushed your spirit but I say you are still alive. You breathe, you live, and thus, you have a song just waiting to be sung. Your dragging feet can dance. Your shy whispering voice can sing glorious melodies. Your heart can beat and feel excitement and love and joy.
You know this. There are moments, tiny moments, that make your eyes shine and your soul leap within itself and the world slightly shimmers for a second. Extend those seconds into a lifetime of awareness. Let love unveil your passion in abundance, let it illuminate your way through the dredge and darkness like glowing lamps in a forest.
And sing, baby, the song that has always been in your heart.