Very rarely do I celebrate myself. Sing myself. Very often do I cry in public places like museums.
My first, very vivid memory of me crying in a museum happened a few years ago at the Louvre.
I had just hit the center of the Egypt exhibit, and I was moved to tears. I had never seen myself in that spot, seeing artifacts so ancient. So important. More important than I had been able to fathom before. The disconnect, little ole me in another country seeing ancient artifacts was a bit much for me to grasp. So I just cried.
Again at the Reina Sofia Museum, I looked at paintings by Pablo Picasso and felt overcome.
Later, I was at the Pardo Museum in the Francisco Goya section.
And most recently, I lost myself in tears at home, lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I remember everything about that moment. I felt broken. I was listening to Quelle Chris’ “It’s Great to Be,” the finale on his album of learning to love and understand yourself. But I wasn’t there yet.
I didn’t know who I was in that moment. The girl I had come to know, this capable, intelligent, and resilient girl was not with me. I didn’t know what I had become or what I was feeling. I was disturbed, scared, and sad. It didn’t occur to me that this new girl and the old girl were the same girl. I was fighting myself trying to reconcile the two, not knowing they could both exist at once.
Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself“
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
In this crazy, tumultuous year of mine, I have learned that I truly need to see myself in all my glory. I am not one thing. I am not two things. I am not three things. I’m not four things.
I’m learning that finding yourself is not a destination. It never ends. You constantly have to shift your concept of self in a million different contexts. When I “found” myself in Paris, staring at the Mona Lisa, I never thought I could be there, but I was, and now I had to make meaning of that. Travels like that are like life at a faster pace. Here’s a new space to see yourself. And another. Didn’t think you’d be here? Well think again. Here you are.
You’re here. You made it.
It’s important to know how you are in context. You’re someone’s child. Someone’s coworker. But you’re also a person who loves children, for example, or someone who loves to write, or analyze sports, or share your opinions on the latest Disney movie. You can also be someone who feels angry about politics, or sad that the person you were before was left behind in another country.
You can be all of those things at once. Not one has to win over the other.
You contain multitudes.