So what then of all this newfound uppity-ness? I mean, there are, at the far end of the spectrum of self-confidence, countless examples of ill-conceived uppity-ness…Jerry Springer and his flying circus, all things Kardashian, or practically anyone on “reality” television, for that matter. No, no, no…this is not just a bumping up of one’s self-esteem, which can often be nothing more than an artificial sweetener for the ego.
This is something more substantial, fluid, and dangerous even...compared to the status quo, at least. It is the true belief and application of Walt Whitman’s answer to the seeming meaninglessness of existence, and the question: “What good amid these, O me, O Life?” With his answer placing that responsibility right back upon ourselves, reminding us: “That you are here, that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”
What a burden that is and yet, a treasure, too. It compels each one of us who ever gets bored with our daily lives, each one of us who points fingers at this person or that, this unfortunate reality or that, making them somehow the source of our doldrums…well, look no farther for the source than in the mirror. For it is our verse, after all, and no one else’s…not even our spouse’s or our children’s or our parents’. But ours. Individually. This verse…with others closely intertwined, to be sure…but ours alone, in the end.
After a year and a half of writing, my once-upon-a-time 401 K ran dry. Of course, the Global Economic Collapse hadn’t helped matters much. And I spent more than a few self-pitying days feeling almost as if God had done this just to prove what a fool I’d been to take such a leap. Self-doubt and regret threatened my newfound uppity-ness on a practically daily basis. But I’d gone so far by then that going backwards wasn’t an option, and standing still was practically a prison sentence.
So what was the answer? Press on, of course. But I’d learned something new in that time of apparent crisis…that truly tapping into that sense of the importance of my “verse” wasn’t enough. That was just the revelation part of it. And revelation, though we can often think of it as the end in and of itself, is usually only the beginning. Then comes the hard work. And work. And work. Akin to going to college, to grad school…and maybe beyond, even. And then graduating, standing there in cap and gown and feeling as if you’re standing on the mountain top…only to find out it was just a foothill. For now comes the really hard part.
But that is the beauty of it, you see. The opportunity.
There is this, from the brilliant baseball movie “A League of Their Own”:
Dottie Hinson (explaining why she was quitting the team): “It just got too hard.”
Jimmy Dugan: "It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!"
There comes a point in any verse when we are challenged to put our money where our mouth is. Or, if we are broke (as I was just then) to put our work, our hard friggin’ work, into it. And not just for a day or a week or two years, even…but for as long as it takes. ‘Cause being uppity is just the beginning. And the powerful play demands more of us than that.
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