e.e. cummings wrote: "We do not believe in ourselves until somone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit."
And here I thought e.e. cummings only wrote avant garde poetry, all in lower case, which I frankly -- in my sometimes annoyingly condescending way -- always thought was quite pretentious...and silly, to boot!
Since I've changed my mind completely on his writing prowess, it just goes to show you how much I know from day to day.
Turns out that e.e. cummings was, in fact, a very spiritually oriented person - something I always like in a poet (and just about everybody else, for that matter!)
With transcendental leanings his entire life, cummings apparently often prayed simply and often for the strength to be his essential self, which he expressed in the following way:
"May I be I is the only prayer -
not may I be great or good or beautiful
or wise or strong."
Now I am a big fan of believing in ourselves and also in "striving to be our essential selves" -- or what I would call our authentic selves -- but am not too keen on the idea that we need somebody else to validate us to do so -- which seems to be what e.e. cummings is suggesting.
If truth be told, if that was all that was required, I have NO excuse for not believing in myself, big time. I had two strong and loving parents -- while both were completely and gloriously as flawed as they could be -- they really did value me and my three siblings in a most supportive way.
But back to contemplating e.e. cummings' first quote above and determining whether I agree with it or not. I actually do concede that we often need someone outside of our family of origin - from our own peer group - whether that be a friend, a lover, or a spouse - who "gets us" on that deep, soulful level - a level that reflects back to us how truly worthy we are of love and joy in this life.
Now I've had -- and still do have -- people in my life - both male and female - who have gotten to know me on those deeper levels and who I believe have cherished me for who I really am in the depths of my being and this HAS allowed me to take risks that would be off limits if I hadn't felt fully supported.
So why, at times, is it so hard for me to love myself? Why do I see so many wonderful and accomplished people suffering with self-esteem issues?!
Maybe because life can still be a lonely business, even when we are surrounded by those who love and accept us exactly as we are.
Maybe because it's hard for most of us to reveal the broken and wounded parts of ourselves easily.
As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to think that those things I don't always like about myself or hate to acknowledge in myself, just might be my most human and valuable parts. Things like vulnerability, the ability to feel pain and heartache (as well as joy, serenity and happiness) and the relief of having a good cry.
After all, let's not forget the Sailor's Prayer that sums up our journey so well:
Be good to me.
The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small.