What does Walt Whitman say
I wrote this many years ago but I was thinking about it so I thought I’d share.
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.”
The above is a Walt Whitman quote. If you don’t know who Walt Whitman is go here
Also, if you don’t know who Walt Whitman is; seriously? Surely you’ve at least heard the name? Big white beard. Allen Ginsberg wanted to have sex with him or something. Ah, just forget it.
I always took that line to mean that what life is really about is much simpler and all around us. Fully accessible to all humanity. Because nature is all around us and it’s just up to us people to look around and notice the most fulfilling and significant thing there is, the natural world all around us.
That interpretation is sort of correct. Whitman is taking about something simple and accessible to all of humanity, but it’s not nature as in the trees and birds and dirt and things I pretend I care about because I think I’m supposed to. Whitman is talking about human nature. That’s what remains when nothing else can satisfy.
What a person really wants and is really about will come through no matter what that person is involved in or tries to achieve. It’s not some major character flaw and it’s not the product of stress from the highly visible work. It’s just one aspect of a person showing itself in a particular way.
There’s a want or a need or a difficult to describe something. This something is there and it creates a craving. Perhaps what the craving is isn’t clear and action is taken to deal with the craving but the something remains. “What remains? Nature remains.” And that aspect of a person’s nature will not go away. It won’t go away even after it’s been recognized and given attention.
It is in my nature to want to consume and do so in an extreme fashion. If I eat my inclination is to do so until whatever container I’m eating out of is empty. If I drink I empty my glass quickly and go back for more. I don’t want one album of a band I’ve just learned about, I need their entire catalogue. I’ve tried to become moderate in all areas of life. It’s the sensible thing to do. What good can come from drinking an entire bottle of vodka, or milk for that matter? But my usual route is to just cut things out entirely if I can’t control the desire to consume completely.
So, which strategy is my nature and which is going against my nature? If Whitman were around I’d ask him but it would probably take me 10 years to figure what his answer meant. Alas, he’s dead and thus no answers are coming. Unless… I’m off to read the entire Whitman collection in search of a deeper understanding of my desire to eat a tub of hummus once it has been opened.