A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

The Power of Believing in Yourself

March 19, 2017
Mary Oliver’s book of essays, Upstream, is open next to my laptop on my dining table, where there are a bunch of tulips in a vase and there is a newspaper in a bundle, which I have already read and I am about to toss. There is my cup of coffee sitting there, still hot, inviting me to slow down, breath, and pause. I pick up her book, open it, and start re-reading some of my favorite paragraphs all over again. This time while reading, I try to savor it, sip by sip, taste it in my mouth, feel the warmth of her words before swallowing them down. After all, that’s how fine poetry should be read:

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”

― Mary OliverUpstream: Selected Essays

Her words make me think and look back at my own life and my own beginning: I have this very old photograph of myself as a young girl running in a field of wild flowers, the wind running through my hair while I am wearing a crown of twigs and a pair of twin cherries hanging on my ears.  Every time I look at this old photograph, I think to myself, “Look at me. I was probably day dreaming while running.” After all, as a young girl, I dreamt all the time. I dreamt so much and so often that I would even dream while standing up and while I was not sleeping. I dreamt of everything beautiful, and I dreamt that life would be a bed of roses. Later on, I found out that it is true that life is a bed of roses, but some of those roses have thorns and I got to learn how to deal with these thorns. I had to learn that at the same time that I am delicate as an impatiens flower. I have to also be strong like a cactus plant in the desert wind, ready to fight back with life, so that if it happens that life punches and knocks me down, I could get up, be a good solider, dust myself off, and punch life right back, hard on the face.

As a young girl, I believed that I am part of this planet earth, which is orbiting so gracefully and slowly. Therefore, as small and as trivial as I am, still, I am amazing and I am powerful as is nature and everything else around me. Looking back, if I knew what I know now, to declare and claim my power and strength as a being from my creator, I would certainly start believing in myself way before I started believing in the whole universe with everything in it: the moon, the stars, the rivers, the mountains, and the oceans. I would believe in myself even before I started believing in art, poetry, and music. Believing in myself would be the soil, which I could continue planting in with the trust that everything planted would bountifully flourish.

I think life is a school, and we are all students, learning. As it happens, some of us are in a higher class and are taking different subjects, but nevertheless, we are all constantly presented with tests and homework to work on our shortcomings, so that we can be elevated to a higher level.

Looking back, I can see so many life lessons and subjects I have failed and had to retake, and so many other life subjects that I thrived in. But the final result was that I learned to give myself permission to fly. I also learned that how high I can fly is only determined by my own perspective of myself, as if I see myself as an eagle or a sparrow. We clip our own wings just so that we cannot fly any higher. We set our own limitations. If ever we think we are stuck in a prison, then we should know that we are the prisoner, the prison, and the guard all at the same time.

As for me, I search inside for the little girl I was in that old photograph, running in the field of wild flowers. When I find her, she so much resembles me, and I take her in where she can meet the young woman I was, the wise woman I am, and the older woman I will be, and I let all these aspects of mine embrace, unite, and become one.

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Posted in LIfestyle, Miscellaneous & Opinion |

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