Today’s guest post is by my amazing niece, Grace. I’ll let her introduce her post:
I think life is all about connection. And I love to imagine myself as a composite of all the wonderful people around me. I love to picture that everything from my tiny preferences to my core personality traits are really just little chunks of heart. Our personal selves are built of everything from “I like the color yellow” to “[insert deeply personal life dogma here.]” And it’s all part of the things we share, in trust and love, with close friends and new acquaintances. I love to look for the ways others have made their mark on each part of me.
There is a place in each of us full of little pieces.
We carry these pieces within us as we go about our lives. They grow in number as we learn about ourselves. Sometimes we find a piece of ourselves in an unexpected place — in a biology class, in a novel, in a fleeting interaction. Wherever they come from, we unearth the pieces, brush them off, and place them inside of ourselves. They shift to meet our thinking- or they shift our thinking- until they are truly our own. Sometimes, we have a piece for a long time before we realize it to be part of us. We constantly shed, share, gain, outgrow, discard, and spread bits of our hearts.
We all have bits from other people. When a piece is shared between two people, the giver does not lose ownership as she lends it. Somehow, it exists in both hearts for as long as it is kept. Linked copies, and we are infinitely shareable. What’s scary to us is that when we share pieces of our hearts, we also leave them open to change. A splash of color; an added chip; some part softened or hardened, molded differently or cracked; a whiff of scent; or some changed malleability remains even after the giving is done.
It is by this manner that even pieces that began as wholly our own come to be marked by other people, too. This otherness inside of us can cause us pain when we miss the people who left it. “This part of me was just me,” we think, “and now it’s got this person on it, and this person is gone, and what am I supposed to do with this piece that no longer fits comfortably within me?” The pieces we shared with them, and the pieces we gained from them, can cause nervousness or pain. Our emotional immune systems sense the otherness and want to eradicate it. Dissonance is hard for us to reconcile.
But we are neither full nor fulfilled without gaining these bits of other people. And we learn that though otherness causes pain through its discrepancy, we would still choose this new difficulty over the old ease. Because we have seen ourselves grow from it, and because we come to love these parts as our own, and because we loved the people who gave them. In reality, everyone is less themselves than they are a composite of others- traits, likes, dislikes, thoughts, quirks, philosophies. And from those we choose to bind ourselves to, we receive the most change.
We look back and realize that this is why we become like the people we choose; it’s because over time we’ve shared so much with each other that we have become parts of each other.
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I am part of all that I have met.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
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We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
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i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)