Being a fan of Walt Whitman, I thought it necessary to write my own version of his famous opening to Leaves of  Grass, as recomended in the post Walt Whitman’s Advice for a Kind and Authentic Life. He was a very philosophical man, and although I prefer the more poetic and fluid prose of European literature, I do really love Whitman’s inciteful meditations about life’s precious moments.

Here’s the original opening…

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men — go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families — re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”

— Walt Whitman, preface to Leaves of Grass

Here’s mine…

This is what you shall do: Tred with your feet upon the Earth everyday as if time did not exist, living not for the past nor the future. Love the little things; the soft sprinkle of rain upon your head, the grass between your toes, the smells and stenches of home. Cherish what’s yours, and let go to what isn’t. Realize how significant your every action is with every passing day, but still be aware how insignificant you are in a world of seven billion others. Fight for what is right, but do not fight blindly, and have the courage to admit when you are wrong. Listen with open ears and heart, but stay true to yourself in the midst of the chaotic worlds of opinion and belief. You need not convince everyone to live the way you believe they should; only by living the life of your own ideals will you be able to prove to the world that that ideal is truly possible. 

— J.W. Grand, preface to the rest of her life


One thought on “My Version of “This is what you must do…”

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