Ask me if I speak for the moon jelly. I will tell you
one thing today and another tomorrow
and I will be as consistent as anything alive
on this earth.
from "characteristics of life" by camille t. dungy.
i'd never heard of her until my friend cj posted the poem, in its entirety, on my facebook wall for my birthday. i've been me for 37 years and 16 days now. i'm not the best me i've ever been; i can look back and see some peaks that are above the valley where the current me resides, perpetually gazing upward (and much less backward these days). i'm on my way back up—and on this sunny wednesday at 3:03 p.m., i have a feeling that this climb will have me higher than ever before.
cj wrote, "here is a poem i thought you would like." i knew it had to be meaningful, because nothing less would come from her. cj is a butterfly, delicate and intricate. elusive and remarkably brilliant. her 49 years haven't touched the sunset in her hair or the freshly shaken sheets of her skin. as i read along, i started to wonder. where was the me she saw in these verses? i couldn't see it, until i reached the stanza i posted above.
oh, wow. she knows about me.
poignant moments are as sparse as the few daffodils i strain to find on the hillside across from our house while walking with my son. since when did daffodils become rare? or is it not rarity but rejection from the clay underearth of this lonesome hillside? its near-barrenness is the emblem of this town that rejects me, too. so i stand with the sparse daffodils, uncertainly rooted yet resilient. it was poignant to realize that my friend cj knows, deeply, a part of me—because i know a similar part resides within her. knowing people happens that way: in pieces. i've figured that out, throughout the past seven years precisely. at best, the most intimate knowledge we'll ever have is of ourselves—and only if we do the work, because self-knowledge isn't a given; it's a process of learning to look at the pieces up close and stepping back to see how they form the whole, and then repeating the process over and over.
the words of the poet camille t. dungy, via the sweet perspicacity of my friend cj, have validated one of my greatest revelations of self-knowledge: i will be as consistent as anything alive on this earth.
say it again, louder: I WILL BE AS CONSISTENT AS ANYTHING ALIVE ON THIS EARTH.
as an often-solitary girl from my early 20s through my mid-30s, i've had the time, the space, and the impulse to look at the pieces of me, over and over. they don't fit together neatly at all, and, at 37 years and 18 days old on this rainy friday, i'm more okay with the unresolved angles of me than i was just yesterday.
ask me if i speak for the moon jelly. i will tell you one thing today and another tomorrow. and none of it will be lies. it'll be me knowing more about me than i knew yesterday.