Monday, January 30, 2012

Out Of Many Voices, One.

'I've built walls, A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
friendship causes pain
It's laughter and loving I disdain
I am a rock,
I am an island
... I won't disturb the slumber of the feelings that have died
I am a rock,
I am an island
I am shielded in my armour
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.'

-Paul Simon

Have you ever heard the logic that "It's my life, so it can't hurt you?" That somehow, whatever we do only affects us and it's ridiculous to suggest it could hurt anyone else? I'm sure you all have. I don't think many of us reach adulthood without experiencing it. For myself, that logic and it's deception and destruction first became very clear in my life when I was twelve years old. Someone I loved very much was making dangerous choices, and it caused me such terrible pain because I loved them and looked up to them. But when I expressed those feelings, I was told I was wrong -- that I couldn't be feeling real pain because it was their life and it had nothing to do with me. At that moment, everything changed. And I realized forever that My Life is not my own. That everything I do affects everything around me. Everything I touch is influenced by my choices. And everyone I love holds rights to my love and actions that I am beholden to protect.

Are any of us rocks?
Are ANY of us islands?

Today I am comforted by the words of John Donne:

No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

So here is my heart:
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. I am involved in mankind. Nothing can change that. Sometimes that twelve year old still comes to me, wounded and confused. But I remind her of her own responsibilities, just as I remind and bandage myself now, and commit once again that now and forever I am responsible not only to myself, not only to God, but to others. Because whether I want it or not; whether I acknowledge it or not; they are still there. Reaching out for me as I am reaching for them. And I will give them the respect they deserve. I will give myself the respect I deserve.

It doesn't matter how many names I am called. It doesn't matter how sharp the lance is, how aggressive the blows, how repetitive the attack. I know who I am. I know where my allegiance lies. And no one can change that. No lies can change that. And I can not, I will not forsake that knowledge. I owe too much to too many other people.
I have shared these words by William Ernest Henley before, but they bear repeating. And this time, I share them with myself:

'It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.'


Kyle, Alicia, and Jaxson said...

Wow, I love that and agree times TEN!! Thank you so much for sharing! You are an amazing person and I always appreciate what you have to say!!

Elise said...

I love this. Thanks for posting it. I was JUST thinking about this John Donne poem today, as it relates to an eerily similar situation in my life right now. I've got a few of those people in my life...people who don't realize the effects their decisions have on others lives.

Anyhoo...hang in there, e-friend. :)

Tamari said...

Thank you for this insight Marie. I agree 100%. I have been amazed at how my actions affect others. I have had both positive and negative experiences in my life where I had this same realization, that I am not only making choices that affect me, but all those around me, like ripples in the water.