The other day I was having one of those deep conversations that I really tend to get into and think about for days at a time. The theme was human nature. I thought it is easy to become really calloused in the world today. But, whether it is a good or bad thing, I am not one of those people. Those who know me know that I can’t watch really depressing movies without it really getting to me- to the point where I cannot sleep at night. Examples of movies that have done this to me are- Man on Fire with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning, Looper, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version), and Cold Mountain. I am sure there are more that I have blocked from my memory. I am insanely sensitive. I cried for a solid two weeks (not continuously of course, fairly sporatically) after my dog died and I am twenty-one years old. But, I think my sensitivity comes from always being really passionate about things I hold dear. I am not very cynical when it comes to human nature. I refuse to believe that there is no good in the world, so when things that counteract my belief, AKA when humans do really crappy things to each other (which occurs every day), I can’t expose myself to it because it will literally make me sick. In fact, that is my biggest anxiety in life. My boyfriend literally knows that after watching intense movies or hearing really bad news that he has to sit me down and make me watch cute, cuddly, and sweet videos of animals or babies. Not joking. That is literally how I cope. (I have one in my “Love Deeply” Section, I love silly cats).
I am also one of those people that experience warm fuzzy feelings when I have my whole family gathered in one room, it is complete bliss to me. I also get them when I hear happy stories about people helping each other, and I absolutely LOVE making people feel loved or laugh. So I am a passionate optimistic I suppose.
The point I am trying to get to is that I thought of something the other day that really lifted my spirits. I was getting a little low when I started my sporadic meditations on human nature. We really screw up this planet as well as each other. That was my thinking. Everyone is just looking out for themselves. Or at least, that is what I thought initially. But the more I thought about it, I came to a pretty awesome conclusion.
I thought of the American ideal. To be rich, right? Maybe not rich, but well-off, no worries financially. I started thinking about those individuals. I thought of all the celebrities, authors, self-made millionaires, and I made a connection I had not made before. Almost every single one of them gives away a portion of their money to those in need. I am not saying they all do, but I believe the HAPPY ones do. I started to think if I were rich, I would feel that same need. That need to give (I feel it now too). I would have everything I could ask for and more. I would feel burdened by that and I would quickly realize that I would be much happier giving most of it away (sometimes I fantasize about just quitting everything and becoming a missionary, sadly I never follow it, probably to the relief of my loved ones).
It made me think that maybe we do care about each other. Even though there is a lot of hate and violence in the world, there is this innate need to help, to give. There is a reason why people say that is what makes them the happiest, because it is a sincere happiness. I believe you can find this happiness in other ways, but essentially all happiness is somehow tied to giving. I mean just look at Christmas. It may be materialistic of us, but we love doting and giving to those we love. We may not give to those who need it most, but it still is a kind thought. It is apart of a goodness within us.
I honestly do not know if I am making sense. I have always found it hard to write down my philosophical musings. I usually discuss them with others in conversation. But, here it is. I believe that if you look hard enough, humans are good. We live to love. We don’t always, which is a shame, but most of us make a sincere effort. I also wanted to share a part of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” with you because it drove me forward to writing this post. I thought it was extremely coincidental that I was having these thoughts, and happened to read this wonderful excerpt around the same time. It is a long excerpt, but to get the meaning you really have to read the whole thing. It is a new favorite.
From “Song of Myself” Walt Whitman
“The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
The deacons are ordain’d with cross’d hands at the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and looks at the oats and rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm’d case,
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother’s bed-room;)
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript;
The malform’d limbs are tied to the surgeon’s table,
What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove,
The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass,
The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do not know him;)
The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race,
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,
As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle,
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other,
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof’d garret and harks to the musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron,
The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm’d cloth is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways,
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots,
The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child,
The clean-hair’d Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in the factory or mill,
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter’s lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering with blue and gold,
The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him,
The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white sails sparkle!)
The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray,
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;)
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly,
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open’d lips,
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other,
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries,
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms,
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold,
The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,
As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the jingling of loose change,
The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof, the masons are calling for mortar,
In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather’d, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground;
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface,
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through those drain’d by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them,
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day’s sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.”
(Italic emphasis mine)
I love the ending. I love the whole thing. I did not think I would like Whitman because I am not big into poetry, but he is pretty plain and forthright.
I sincerely believe we are all connected and even though the world seems dark with a lot of hurting and cruelty, we all reach out to everyone in our own way and in our own time.
Have a good day and don’t forget to give a little this holiday season!
And I had to end with a good, cat pick-me-up video!