“This is the city and I am one of the citizens …” (Walt Whitman)

“This is the city and I am one of the citizens, whatever interests the rest interests me.”  This is a line from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

It caught my attention for the worldview it includes.  If only we were all so curious and interested in ‘other’, in wrapping difference into our own.

I’m not an English major and reading poetry is not generally a pastime so bear with me. I am interested in words that provide a window into a new way of looking at things.

Like these.  Here are some other intriguing lines from the same poem.

  • “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” (Section 1)

Could it be that even when we seem most different, when we appear like icebergs miles apart, that our underwater bases are actually touching, that we’re more similar than first appearances?

  • “In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less/and the good or bad I say of myself I say of them” (Section 20)

When we see ‘other’ we so easily judge (especially when we’re stressed or in conflict).  Examining difference from the lens of intrigue, while batting away judgement, can bring about powerful insight (none less than into our own selves).

  • “It is you talking just as much as myself…I act as the tongue of you” (Section 47)

Others reflect ourselves back to us, especially all our complicated, crazy peccadilloes.

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