I Know my Soul

I plucked a soul out of its secret place
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.

–Claude McKay, poet from the Harlem Renaissance

The other day I sat long and hard thinking about high school. I couldn’t get my mind off of how it felt to be in Mr. Stevens’ science classroom on a rainy day. Sneakers squeaked on the way to their desks. The room smelled of wet and expo marker. The heaviest load I bore was my backpack full of books, and my biggest worry an essay I had to do over the weekend or an upcoming test. Home was only a hop, skip, and a jump away and 2:35PM marked the end of the day’s most demanding tasks. Why do we tire of simplicity? Because we believe we deserve to have and should aspire for more? Down the road, we realize too late that more is less and less is more.

I have seen Europe and explored her streets. I’ve seen the relics of history in bustling cities and known the humble silences of the countryside at home. I’ve loved in different languages and spoken sometimes with only my heart and a song. I’ve witnessed death with my own eyes and realized that I’m not afraid of it anymore. I used to think I needed to do a lot before I pass on, but at this point in time, nothing would make me happier than simply being around my loved ones and giving them all I have. I know, though, that there are many people who have helped me get to where I am today, who have believed in me enough to remind me that the buck doesn’t stop here. Not just yet. From now on, my future – as it should be – is for others and never just for me.

It’s taken me a while, but I am finally comfortable with myself. I am unafraid of failure, unafraid of death. I know who I am. I know my soul.


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