Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you,
and brace themselves against you? or who treat you with
contempt, or dispute the passage with you?
The above poem, Stronger Lessons was part of a manuscript titled, “Sands at Seventy.” “Sands at Seventy” was the title of a collection of poems that first appeared in November Boughs (1888) and was later included as an “annex” to the final printings of Leaves of Grass. Stronger Lessons is one of my favorite poems. I hadn’t thought of this poem for some time and was reminded after hearing an audio interview clip with Monica Lewinsky having discussing her receipt of Leaves of Grass.
Like Lewinsky, and the better part of all, I wrote eighteen letters to an unrequited love several years ago. Each letter was returned, rejected outright. Till this day, I have no reason why I kept the letters. I have neither opened nor read any until today.
Lwenski reminded me of her and my letters. In their own way, both Lewinsky and this unrequited love are both strong, kind, and confident. There are many questions, but not once have I received an answer. For some time, I wanted answers because maybe they would help. But realizing that on any given day, I may not wake. From that perspective alone, I am not a long-term candidate for lasting love. In the end, she might have chosen security. All I have are these letters.
Today, I decided to share all eighteen letters. I will open one letter each day and share them with you. Originally, each letter was handwritten. Each had a theme. Some are short. Others are long. Names and locations will be changed, as required. Hopefully, in some way, one letter or one sentence will assist one of you hurting or hoping to build a bridge or simply move forward. Maybe this holiday season, you’ll be able to reach that one unrequited love.
Dear Ms. J.:
I recently conversed with a fellow traveler to en route to Arizona. This fellow teetered back and forth about leaving one position for another – that somehow leaving the current position would ‘right the wrongs’ within his personal life.
I concurred with two points: there is such a thing as quality of life and his wasn’t.
Therein lay the problem. Looking at almost everyone met, single or couple alike, almost none have found a way to align all the pieces and compromises. Sacrifices litter the roads traveled and mountains climbed.
But the thing I’ve most admired about you is your unceasing thoughts of love and laughter. They are a profound gift that has lifted me past darker days. You have constantly created a life worth remembering – a life worth repeating – a life better than most.
My heart is full for you, pulls for you and lives for your adventures and your love.