Meditations for Queer Femmes – Situated

I almost didn’t buy the ratty copy of Stanley Kunitz’s book when I saw it at the book sale, but good sense caught up with me and it is now a treasured addition to our library. I almost skimmed over the essay on Walt Whitman when I opened the book recently, but managed to settle down enough to begin to absorb some of Kunitz’s wisdom, and through him, the raw energy, wisdom and love of Whitman. For example, Kunitz quotes Whitman, writing soon after the assassination of Lincoln:

Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness of heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us . . . We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout . . . The depravity of the business classes of our country is not less than has been supposed, but infinitely greater. The official services of America, national, state, and municipal, in all their branches and departments, except the judiciary, are saturated in corruption, bribery, falsehood, maladministration; and the judiciary is tainted. The great cities reek with respectable as much as non-respectable robbery and scoundrelism . . . The best class we show is but a mob of fashionably dress’d speculators and vulgarians . . . I say that our New World democracy . . . is, so far, an almost complete failure . . .

How delightful and satisfying, these words from a queer predecessor; how thought-provoking and how close to my own feelings about the time I’m living in! And how close I came to completely missing this delight and satisfaction due to my compulsive hurrying, my not feeling situated in my life and the flow of my life, due to not remembering what my relationship with books and words is. Due to not remembering who I am.

My contretemps with Kunitz’s book and words also got me thinking about how easy it is for me to brush aside my own intuition about what will nurture and uphold me. I get so caught up in hurrying on to the next thing that I can barely manage to take in, let alone process and enjoy, what is right in front of me. FOMA* has always been part of human experience, I’m sure, but now it’s worse than ever because of all our devices moving with such speed that no one can possibly keep up. Even – perhaps especially – on those devices, we clickety-click through thousands (millions?) of pieces of information, never ever giving our brains, hearts and souls a chance to catch up, to ponder, wonder, analyze, connect to our own lives in any meaningful way, in a way that has any depth or chance of longevity. The advertising world figured this one out a long time ago, that humans are challenged by the ability to imagine more more more and that a “never satisfied” condition can be nurtured and encouraged for financial gain.

Dear femme sisters, a moment. The stars and the planets are aligned, you are walking in a holy place, what surrounds you surrounds no one else in exactly the same way, being alive here and now in this essence and assurance is your gift and sacred duty. Today, remember one amazing thing about yourself. Take pleasure in one astounding event, place, person, poem, insight, in the way that you and only you can love into being. Be still. Be grateful. Inhale the aroma. Delight in the music. Situate yourself there.

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,

            The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into

a new tongue.

*Fear of Missing Out

All Walt Whitman quoted in the essay, “At the Tomb of Walt Whitman” in Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays, by Stanley Kunitz, The Atlantic Monthly Press, NY, 1985.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Published in: on April 1, 2019 at 5:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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