Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Social Stamina ... or, how would Emily Dickinson feel at the soiree?

Yesterday I wrote an old friend about the work that I get done or gets done to me, during the 'Ole Moon Cycles-- the review times just passed. I told her how the emotions or feelings that are not attended during the rest of the month just demand attention.  Since Pete and I have committed to living more intune with the nature of sun and moon during the passed two years, several things have become the focus of my energy and MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) has become a hard-edged shovel digging away at some very old habits and issues surrounding power and personal boundaries. Often, this work requires everything I've got ... there's little left over for things like -- being social.  I become awkward and unsure of my boundaries with people and what happens when a visitor like chronic illness or environmentally induced sensitivities become a lodger with a mission? 

Living with multiple chemical sensitivities is often a solitary life.  Many of us live a housebound life because it is nearly impossible to interact with others during times of low energy, toxic-overload and a conscious awareness that the only way to regain health is to coocoon. That 'lodger' comes and influences my daily habits, my predispositions and threatens to reassemble the beliefs I have.  My tiny home, the old vardo built to assure me a safe haven when all else seemed in conspiracy has become a healing coocoon. Fleeing as the Roma have fled with history of persecution ever a companion, I find that part of the diaspora is entangled with my own sense of self-worth; and time and access to signs/signals and astrological insight are opening me to the miracles.  The title of this article includes a reference to one of my favorite characters in literary history -- Emily Dickinson.  She was a writer of deep feelings, and nature-bound insight who penned these intimate thoughts onto paper that would be read only after she died.  Her history revealed, to me, a woman who chose to live her true self unamended.  I found two of Emily's poems included here ... random gems from the collection of hand-written poetry copied into self-bound installments to be discovered by her sister.  This poet, considered today as one of the world's great poets chose to live a solitary life at age 34, when dead upon dead weighed her perhaps not unlike those self-bound, hand-written poems.  Speculation, that sport of humankind that is bred I think from the lack of a fully formed inner life, has included many theories about why she lived as recluse from a world of socialization.  What impresses me as I nibble at the essays and writings written about Emily on online libraries, are these Emily Dickinson's choices:

  • she did not write tranditionally ... The extensive use of dashes and unconventional capitalization in Dickinson's manuscripts, and the idiosyncratic vocabulary and imagery, combine to create a body of work that is "far more various in its styles and forms than is commonly supposed". - from Wiki-pedia
  • she was better known as a gardener than a poet during her lifetime ... tending and planting her family's homestead gardens with flowers that were loved both by the poet and all who were near them (both the poet and the flowers)
  • she was a self-publisher long before blogging was a collective thought ; she wrote to connect through her letters, yet her poetry and deepest observation of life she tucked into 'fascicles' unseen until after her death.

Two poems from Emily Dickinsons' Fascicles

Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

I've known a Heaven like a tent

To wrap its shining yards,

Pluck up its stakes and disappear

Without the sound of boards

Or rip of nail, or carpenter,

But just the miles of stare

That signalize a show's retreat

In North America.

No trace, no figment of the thing

That dazzled yesterday,

No ring, no marvel;

Men and feats

Dissolved as utterly

As birds' far navigation

Discloses just a hue;

A plash of oars -a gaiety,

Then swallowed up to view.

If you live with chronic illness, MCS or another condition that has led to periods of self-chosen or imposed coccooning, what happens to your social stamina?

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