In the Wake of Whitman

Let this post be an invitation into my mindset as this new place inspires me.

Gearing up to travel here, I had one thought at the back of my mind: would I write? It’s been a long time since I have committed myself to writing. I have spent many hours and many summers wondering when the next “burst” would hit. In Japan, I saw an opportunity to peel myself apart from my stagnant identity and embrace this “new” thing.

I brought a few books with me. One, “Steal Like an Artist,” by Austin Kleon, is a book every prospective author should have.

It is full of wonderful shards of not just writing advice, but creative advice. Often times these shards have spurred me to write a little blurb here and there and then let it rot away in my vacuum of a writing folder. But there are a few moments where I take a nice look, where I actually read and am inspired.

There is another book that I brought with me. Swept up and taken away by the change I was making, Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman found its way into my suitcase.

In Whitman I’ve found solace. The metaphors of life and loving life as it comes were precisely what I needed for this moment.

“I celebrate myself,/ And what I assume you shall assume,/ For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to/ you.” (1-4, 1, Whitman)

And indeed I shall celebrate myself. Loving the world as it is, is complicit. In quarantine I have found time to reflect upon where I am from. While I have stepped out and have shopped and eaten amongst Japanese nationals, I am still only viewing them through a window. Tokyo is not yet at my fingertips. I am here, but I have yet to really be here.

I am full, because of it. Full of anticipation. Full of excitement and terror. I have made friends with whom I hope to travel with. Whom I hope to share drinks with and laugh more with, and yet we are still rooms apart. Whitman fills the space for now and from inside these tiny confines I continue to grow.

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