Thursday, May 14, 2015

Containing Multitudes

Yesterday's post about our recent motorcycle ride through Everglades National Park made me want to record an interchange I had with my boss on Monday.

He asked me how my week-end had been.  Usually, I'd have said, "Fine.  Yours?"

On Monday, I said, "It was great.  On Saturday I went on a motorcycle ride through Everglades National Park, and on Sunday, I was quilting with my quilt group."

He gave me a steady stare.  "A motorcycle trip and quilting."

I couldn't resist.  I threw a Whitman quote into the mix.  I said, "I contain multitudes."

He said, "You don't strike me as someone who would ride a motorcycle."  And then I asked about his week-end, and he gave the usual, it-was-fine, answer, and we moved on.

But I've been thinking about that comment:  does it mean that I look like someone who would quilt?  Or is it not a surprise because of the fabric art on my walls?  And do I seem too sturdy and responsible to ride a motorcycle?  How could we make quilting a more edgy exercise?  And why do I want it to be edgy?

My spouse and I have been discussing this aspect of containing multitudes.  We are both a bundle of contradictions, at least in the ways that the larger culture tries to define people.  We don't fit neatly into any category.  We go to church, which is unusual according to the latest study from the Pew Center, which found that the more education a person has and the more money a person has, the less likely the person will have a religious affiliation.  We have fairly liberal politics when it comes to LBTGQ rights, but we believe in owning guns.  We bought two hybrid cars, but we have 2 motorcycles which are less fuel efficient than those cars.  We give lots of money to various charities, but we don't deny ourselves various pleasures either.

We contain multitudes, in short.

I imagine that statement is true of most of us.  How would our various national conversations change if we could remember that fact?

And on a different note, let me write down something that occurred to me last night on the way home:  I wonder if there are any publishing opportunities that could come from being an unusual motorcycle rider?  If nothing else, I could certainly write some interesting essays about the spiritual insights that have come to me while riding on the back of a bike. 

1 comment:

Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

You might be interested in this fascinating book of poetry, which I bought shortly after the author passed away:
I was particularly interested in it because I love riding motorcycles and I also have a bleeding disorder which would render any accident almost certainly fatal, or at least pretty problematic.