Word Wednesday: Emily Dickinson

11:00:00 AM

It's been a while since I've done a Word Wednesday, but I'm back with a quote from a very talented poetess: Emily Dickinson!


Emily Dickinson remains one of my favorite poets, largely because of her minimalist writing style. I continue to be astounded by the worldliness that comes across in her writing when she was known to have been extremely introverted (possibly agoraphobic) and hardly left her bedroom. Still, much of her writing addresses issues so universal that they continue to be applicable to this day.

Part Two: Nature, Poem 130

Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door;
Or has it feathers like a bird,

Or billows like a shore?

I've always been drawn to the line, "Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door," which is so opposite of my own tendencies. To me, this poem is about actively seeking and seizing opportunities, which isn't something I do. I've never been decisive or good at making things happen. I've always been analytical, someone who would rather watch and see how the chips fall than be the person who is throwing them down. I've been thinking a lot lately about how I always feel like I am waiting for something to happen. Waiting to feel like I'm stable, or successful, or in a "good place" in my life, whatever that means. That can be incredibly frustrating. I think it's equally frustrating to try and be someone you're not, so I'm not sure how to begin to break away from that, when that tendency to wait for things to happen is so tied to who I am as a person.

I had a really interesting conversation with a friend recently where we talked about Hamilton and the idea that Hamilton and Burr butt heads so often because they have fundamentally different approaches to ambition. This is a big point of tension in the musical - Burr's refrain is, quite literally, "wait for it," while Hamilton is all about action - at one point, telling Burr, "You get nothing if you wait for it." I relate deeply to this conflict, and to the idea that you can be ambitious and want things for yourself but not go after them. Burr comments on his admiration and frustration at seeing things happen for Hamilton that aren't happening for him - and he keeps coming back to the idea that, eventually, things will happen for him too, if only he can wait for it.

Like Hamilton, the narrator of Dickinson's poem is someone who opens every door in the hopes of getting what they want. I find that admirable. Terrifying. I want to be that person, but I'm not quite sure how to get there.

What about you? Are you a Hamilton or a Burr? Do you open every door, or are you waiting to see what's behind them? If you have a quote you've been gravitating to lately, I'd love to hear it!

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