“Today, my small child, Joyce,
love your self’s self where it lives.”
-Anne Sexton, “The Double Image”
Sometimes my self’s self lives in melancholy. Sometimes it lives in colors: the walnut stain on my hand, the water stain on a tree trunk, the changing oil stains when it rains. Sometimes it lives in dense, difficult texts, the kind you crawl through like a spelunker, trusting your light and getting your whole self muddy, and sometimes I feel claustrophobic inside those close pages. Sometimes my self’s self lives with people. I look up and I’m overjoyed, wonderstruck, giggly at the thought of talking, laughing, sharing. Sometimes it lives alone in the quiet of rooms I don’t know how to open up for others. Sometimes I live in the sweet of ice cream, and sometimes in the sizzle of oil and onions.
Over the years, I’ve gotten mad at my self’s self for living where it does. I’ve pointed out other impressive homes that it should move to; I’ve watched the neighbors, and asked my self’s self why it doesn’t have her easy smile or his dancer’s grace. I’ve thought that my self’s self would only grow when I questioned it, when I demanded answers from it, when I stuck it with pins and measured its responses and gave it a workout routine. There’s a lot of work I want to do in the world, but reading Anne Sexton, I think one of the hands that lets us reach from ourselves to the world is love. Or maybe, more clearly, it’s love that lets us plant ourselves in the world.
Imagine this: you walk home, with a breath or a smile or a meditation, and find your self’s self building something on the porch. You walk home, and find your self’s self crying in the grass. You walk home, and find your self’s self lost looking at the stars. And wherever it is, wherever it wakes up, you love your self’s self where it lives. Imagine that.