Sunday, December 02, 2012

Lone self

"Alone" by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967):

“When I’m alone”—the words tripped off his tongue
As though to be alone were nothing strange.
“When I was young,” he said; “when I was young. . . .”

I thought of age, and loneliness, and change,
I thought how strange we grow when we’re alone,
And how unlike the selves that meet and talk,
And blow the candles out, and say goodnight.
Alone. . . . The word is life endured and known.
It is the stillness where our spirits walk
And all but inmost faith is overthrown.

Sometimes on my way down the hall at work or going from the front of the house to the back I forget what I set out to do. The cue for the intention was on my desk or the screen or maybe hanging around the back door, and when I cut loose and ramble through other rooms and past many doors, the reason for the ramble disappears.

Sometimes I lose my self in the same way. Who am I now? Which iteration of Gwen? Young and shy, smart, unaware. Older, lost somewhere between the home harbor and an unknown destination. Someone inhabits this body. Someone is the voice inside my head. But who or what is that?

Perhaps I should go sit and meditate and just be for a while.

There has been no quiet time this weekend. The voice between my ears is still carrying on conversations with last night's dinner companions, with the good friends I dined with on Friday, with those who read and sang and those who listened at this afternoon's Christmas Lessons and Carols, with the John Adams score for "I Am Love," the movie I watched last night, with the news and op-ed I read online.

So many selves--like the images in a three-way mirror, except each is moving independently, each demanding attention like a child among siblings.

Perhaps I should leave them all alone. There will still be something left. Will that be me?

[Poem quoted earlier today on Andrew Sullivan's blog at The Daily Beast.]

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