By Jeanie Johnson
When the focus for this issue appeared in my inbox I was perplexed. What could I possibly add to the plethora of books, articles, musings, hype, movies, etc. that are flooding the planet regarding 2012? As I gave it more thought all I could come up with was 2012 – between 2011 and 2013. To be sure there will be endless commentaries which will continue through the end of this year and into next until we arrive mid-summer where we will begin the evaluation on the predictions and meanings of this historic time. And that is a truth; it is an historic time. My more serious idea was that I did not have anything cosmic or particularly metaphysical to add to the subject. I did have some thoughts for myself on the coming year; one in which we may well see the recall of the state’s governor, a political race for president that has, so far, been a circus sideshow, the Occupy Movement spreading around the globe, worsening environmental problems, financial chaos and rates of unemployment that stagger our imaginations.
I know, those are such this-worldly things, such non-metaphysical and pedestrian thoughts. I’m sure I haven’t progressed much during this lifetime, as it appears I am stuck in the physical world with all its concrete forms and machinations. This has been an ongoing meditation for me – how to shift to a detached place where I fret less over earthly problems. At 63 years old, I’ve finally decided that I don’t want to do that. Detach from each and every little wrinkle in time and space? Yes. Detach from the struggles and joys humans have? No. I want to be in that delightful, richly diverse soup with both feet – a lot like Lucille Ball in the wine vat.
Walt Whitman spoke to me recently in the preface to his beautiful series of poems written over a lifetime. I submit this as my offering for 2012. It is my calling for this next year of change.
This is What You Shall Do
This is what you shall do
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Give alms to every one that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others,
Argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence
toward the people,
Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown
or to any man or number of men,
Go freely with powerful uneducated persons
and with the young
and with mothers of families,
Read these leaves in the open air
every season of every year of your life,
Reexamine all you have been told at school or church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
and your very flesh shall be a great poem and
have the richest fluency not only in its words but
in the silent lines of its lips and face and
between the lashes of your eyes and in every
motion and joint of your body.
Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass 1855