by Walt Whitman
WHY, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships with the men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
When I ask you to listen to me,
and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me,
and you begin to tell me,
why I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me,
and you feel you have to,
o something to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I asked, was that you listen,
not talk or do - just hear me.
Advice is cheap:
you can get it in Dear Abby and Billy Graham.
And I can do for myself,
I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.
When you do something for me,
that I t I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and weakness.
But when you accept as a simple fact,
that I do feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can quit trying to convince you,
and can get about the business,
of understanding what's behind,
this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear,
the answers are obvious,
then I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense,
when we understand what's behind them.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And, if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I'll listen to you.
DO UNTO OTHERS .....
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our
neighborhood. I remember well the polished, old case fastened to the wall.
The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box.
I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination
when my mother used to talk to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person - her name was
"Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know.
"Information Please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time.
My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench
in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was
no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.
The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the foot stool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the
parlor and held it to my ear. "Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small
clear voice spoke into my ear.
"Information" "I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother
home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" the voice asked. "No," I replied. "I hit my
finger with the hammer and it hurts." "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice
and hold it to your finger," said the voice.
After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was.
She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.
Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called "Information
Please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown ups say to soothe a child. But I was
unconsoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and
bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly,
"Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."
Somehow I felt better.
Another day I was on the telephone. "Information Please."
"Information," said the now familiar voice. "How do you spell fix?" I asked.
All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was
nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend
very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home
and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat
on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those
childhood conversations never really left me.
Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense
of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding,
and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half-an-hour or so between planes. I spent
15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then, without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown
operator and said, "Information, please."
Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
"Information." I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now." I laughed, "So it's really still
you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time." "I wonder," she said, "if you know how much
your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I
could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. "Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."
Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, "Information." I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" she said. "Yes, a very old
friend," I answered. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because
she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?" "Yes." I said. "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down
in case you called. Let me read it to you. The note said, "Tell him I still say there
are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.