I have a friend who sometimes tells me I can entertain my desire to travel and fill my life with new events without shattering my budget.

I try to pay attention to suggestions about using the talents of fiction writers as well as my own imagination to give me a new experience when I crave it. My so-called flight instinct has always been at odds with an equally persistent desire to have loved ones nearby.

Emily Dickinson’s “If ever the lid gets off my head” offers an escape from appearances that is as radical in its counsel as it is austere in execution.

If ever the lid gets off my head
And lets the brain away
The fellow will go where he belonged –
Without a hint from me,

And the world – if the world be looking on –
Will see how far from home
It is possible for sense to live
The soul there – all the time.

When I read, “And lets the brain away”, I get such a feeling of satisfaction. In part, I think, because of the poem’s implication that there is total escape to be had.

But, without “The fellow (who) will go where he belonged – ” suffering a “hint from me”.

Surely, what some people call flight-of-fancy is all about the dueling urge to go – and to stay. For with nothing to hold me back, “…if the world be looking on – /Will see how far from home / it is possible for sense to live”.  Whether it’s a relationship, a geographical condition, or any push-pull personal conflict. Of course, Dickinson’s use of the word “sense” instead of “me” implies a personal duality.  In the context of the poem, “sense” implies thought as opposed to action.  I don’t know about others, but I find here a description of a lifetime project. To tame the fire in the belly when it compels me to “explore,” may mean a hard-won distinction between thought and action.

Couple all this with my built-in off switch between what I “feel” worthwhile doing – and practical ambitions. For me, it makes a do-your-own-thing life that takes a lot of work if I am to avoid being at odds with others.

The beautiful challenge is to relax with the rhythm in the final words of the poem in the knowledge that, “The soul there – all the time”.  My soul, my essence, remains intact.

And, in fact, doing these blog posts does a lot to quench my thirst for precarious escapades. Rightly or wrongly, I allow the poem to reassure me that sometimes my brain belongs where it goes when it sets off on an adventure.

Digest A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way

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