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  • Writer's pictureChristine Weimer

The Edge of Thirty-Two: A Series of Existential Events with the Help of Walt Whitman

It’s my birthday and, until yesterday, I forgot.

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself…”

Whitman’s words instantly call to me.

But I do not seek to celebrate myself these days. I don’t sing praises of self on the hills I stand atop.

Did I ever?

Have I ever celebrated reaching the top of the hill? Have I always been too concerned with moving on to the next mountain? Or running from them?

Did I ever stop to sing?

This past year has been so heady. Wildly introspective yet totally existential and I’ve spent most days asking myself, “Why are you here, Chris?”

And I don’t mean that in an unhealthy way.

But I’m restless. My mom’s death triggered trauma responses in me that I didn’t know I had. Recent hard choices I’ve made have shattered everything I thought I knew about the woman I wanted to be. I could’ve sworn I already settled this…

I fear I do not know myself.

But I spent so much time getting to know myself.

How did I get here again?

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well, then, I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Whitman validates that I am not one thing. Conflicting thoughts and a collision of contrasting desires always lead to inconsistencies. The discrepancies between soul and human as they work to combine may not ever come to completion in this life.

Should it?

I’ve put myself into quarantine. Seeing and speaking less to the people I love, the desire to spend time alone surmounting all other possibilities, the need to be comfortable in my Hermit form feeling most righteous at the moment.

There used to be a door tucked somewhere between my head, heart, and gut. I always knew it was there. I was just six years old when I felt its frame for the first time, envisioning the life I’d live once opening it.

I boarded it up around my teenage years, just as I was getting ready to enter. I did not have the strength to see what was inside, afraid of the pain I might expose myself to once I crossed the threshold. I nailed a Do Not Enter sign on that door and, for quite some time, forgot it existed within me.

But four years ago I lifted the barricades and barged right through in an act of pure desperation, an ever-lasting need to breathe after feeling so suffocated without it being open. I needed to let the air back into my chest. It felt like the only option.

“Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you.

You must travel it by yourself.

It is not far. It is within reach.

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.”

Even Whitman knew the only way out, was in.

My daughter was inside that door, a soul inherently connected to mine who chose to come through me into this life. I dreamt of her long before we ever met, knowing we’d find each other at some point.

My voice was there, too, just like I knew it would be. I sealed the door shut all those years ago fully aware that my words would go with it. It was a price I was willing to pay at the time.

And one I swore I’d never pay again…

I thought I had found my identity when I finally entered. Pen in hand, baby on my hip, an unconventional room for two designed by my very hands. A galaxy of stars continued to expand around me and I, the creator.

I can’t pinpoint the moment the core of my supernova began to crumble from the inside.

Was it stagnancy? Loneliness? Grief? Complacency?

I did not see it coming.

I couldn’t have.

I’d have stopped it.

I knew better.

I know nothing.

“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

I certainly have been yawping, too, Whitman. Shouting while circling my tail, constantly feeling like I’m causing an unintelligible scene without the means to an end.

Maybe knowing nothing shouldn’t scare me. I got to know my nature with bare feet and bare bones when I opened that door years ago. I knew nothing then.

Maybe knowing nothing is where rebirth begins. Maybe I am, once again, in rebirth.

Except there’s no door in my sight. I’ve been seeking to run toward something I don’t have a vision of anymore. The idea of starting anew comes with no safety net this time. I’m still not sure where I want to land.

But I think I’m the safety net. Admitting that comes with the accountability that I haven’t been a very good protector this past year. I have not been wise with the responsibility of self-preservation.

What am I trying so hard to reach?

I wonder if the issue is in trying to reach anything at all. It’s conceivable to think I need to reach for nothing. Perhaps, right now, existing atop this hill is enough. Maybe it’s okay to not always be reaching.

Could I just be here? Would that be okay?

“I exist as I am, that is enough,

If no other in the world be aware I sit content,

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,

And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,

I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.”

After keeping my voice and words hidden behind the door to which I never thought I’d enter, it was Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” that inspired the first work of poetry I had written in 10 years.

It’s funny that it came back to me today, four years later at a time when there is nothing I need more than to feel content with where I sit, to know that the song will always play for me, to believe that existing is enough.

Existing is enough. The rest may not be up to me to know.

“I and this mystery, here we stand.”

I will not run from the unknown. There is power in that embrace. But I refuse to force myself to walk toward anything just for the sake of movement, either. I can stay here for a while, letting go of some of the control of what might be ahead.

Cheers to the mystery and I, at the edge of thirty-two.


Christine Weimer is an award-winning author, publisher, creative content writer, and spoken-word artist from Queens, New York. She is honing all the guts and glory of motherhood while promoting and supporting women writers as the Editor-in-Chief of Our Galaxy Publishing. Christine is the author of three poetry collections; Tainted Lionheart, which won the Gold Medal Poetry Award for Readers’ Favorite 2021, I Got to Know Nature, and Claiming the Throne. Her most recent work is published in The Order of Us and Venus Rising anthologies, Sunflower Station Press literary magazine, and she is a contributing writer for Her View From Home. She is also the Publishing Advisor for Gearing Towards Engineering Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of STEM education to today's youth.

Our Galaxy Publishing is a New York City-based, women-owned, and operated independent press with a nationwide team serving aspiring authors the tools to write and publish. Our seamless publishing experience focuses on action-based tools and resources to publish, exploration of all core storytelling elements, and empowering an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether seeking to self-publish a book or find a traditional publisher, work with us for book publishing, book editing, book marketing, and writing mentorship to publish a successful book.

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