There are things I have learned from e.e. cummings.
|This is for a long ago contest ~~~ The prompt was to write about your favorite quote.
To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing its best, night and day,
to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight –-
and never stop fighting.
e. e. cummings
This typed quote is mounted permanently on my fake-wood computer console. It's taped at eye-level, slightly to my left. The words, read daily and sometimes more than once, have been memorized by countless such recitings. The quote reminds me that when the vacuum of conformity sucks mightily, I must do battle in e.e. cummings' challenge. His words are my mantra, my staunch, daily renewal against the assault of this white-washing, varnish-stripping environment where society constantly attempts to even out, make equal, and assimilate people's differences.
My mother is a good example; she wants me to be a certain way and so has thick blinders that see me on her lane of existence. But I can’t walk down that path. It isn’t mine. Although my meandering walk has stickers, thorns, and ugly weeds, it is comfortable for me. I see wild flowers blooming. Along the way, the crickets chirp, a couple of bullfrogs ribbet in throaty calls, and the birds sit high up in the tree singing of morning, of beauty, of life.
I fight against my mother's pull. I love her. I cherish her advice, but I can never stop my battle against her tugs and pushes, her subtle manipulations, and her drips of guilt because I'm not the perfectly manicured daughter she would like.
My house holds no antique rugs. My cat takes siestas on a well-worn couch, which even when newly purchased was not a sophisticated copy of elegance. The dust in my house often sleeps on knickknacks, the ones I never wanted and try to ignore. No framed modern art hangs on my walls, nor do I fill my life with status symbols of prosperity -- a new car, interior decorating, a fashionable spa and pool or a landscaped garden. I'm not even aware what was featured in the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens.
The original oil painting I bought from an artist forty years ago, a Clydesdale pulling a plow, still occupies the focus of my living room. I've been told by friends and family that a copy of a Picasso would brighten up the room and make it more "today," but the horse, the industrious laborer, and the plow remind me of who I am. We commune.
I never wear designer labels. My K-Mart dishes suit me, and Target is my favorite store. I don't care that my undies aren't engraved with someone’s name. My shoes are usually plastic. My purse is the same one I’ve been carrying for several years. I hope my mother doesn’t buy me another, since I have four of them still stored inside cupboards. My old one suits just fine.
At school, the pressure is even greater than at home. Officials command us to fill and fit in boxes they've designed for us and for the children. We must swallow their newest educational swill at each teacher's meeting where we practice cooperation and have lessons in sameness. Pass the fish, but don’t speak against its smelly foolishness is the unspoken rule. So I endure the daily, intensive form-fitting, the days of collective intelligence gathering where we stir our brains, co-mingle our juices, and make attempts at very unscientific cloning.
My resistence is, of course, silent, for to speak against the current mode is forbidden. That would bring a label to my teacher’s file with words like: “anti-social,” “not a team player,” and “resistive”. But I am all of those. I am myself; yet that sentiment is a jaded, seventy's tune, no longer acceptable in the current year.
Ah, e.e. cummings, where have you gone? Have you departed this timeframe, or are you lying in a rest home somewhere, adapted, socially co-mingled, ironed-out and flat? I hope not. For your words still always sing my quiet battle song. I rise each morning and bathe in their meaning.
To be nobody but yourself, in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight –- and never stop fighting.
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My blog is a writing blog, where I add chapters.
Currently in its rough draft stage is my NaNo 2013 novel: The Downside of Solar Panels -- a young witch decides to install solar panels on the cottage where she lives. But how can she achieve her goal of financial independence when a warlock, werewolves, ghosts and a neighborhood vampire keep intruding?