I Have Crossed To Safety Holding What Makes Me Who I Am

I Have Crossed To Safety Holding What Makes Me Who I Am

I believe the poem, written in the midst of such grief and suffering, has profound applicability to my life and many of the lives around me.

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"To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave."

Above reads the first stanza of one of Robert Frost's lesser-known but astoundingly profound poems, "I Could Give All To Time." It is a poem in my favorite book in his collection of poetry: A Witness Tree. The book and the poems in it as a whole were written in a time of extremely dark circumstance for Robert Frost: in the four years prior to its publishing, his wife, Elinor, died of a heart attack, his son, Carol, committed suicide. I believe the poem, written in the midst of such grief and suffering, has profound applicability to my life and many of the lives around me.

Time, in this Frost poem, is personified and capitalized. He is capable of dramatic feats against dramatic circumstances, being able to equalize "peaks of snow" with "running waves[s]." The snow often lie far above the surface, and yet the wave is at the surface, so this equalization requires the convergence of elevations thousands of feet apart. "I Could Give All To Time" attributes a stoic nature to Time: to time he is never brave, as he is simply doing his job.

Time as a character goes back to far in history, religions, and mythology. There are two words for time in Greek: chronos and kairos. Chronos was the refers to quantitative time: time that can inherently be measured, while kairos is a qualitative time that refers to moments. In particular, it refers to the opportune moment to change. In Christian theology, kairos is defined as "ripeness."

Time in "I Could Give All To Time" identifies more with chronos than kairos. Time is never overjoyed, but "only grave, contemplative and grave." The word, grave, has its roots in the phenomenon of gravity, in physics always defined numerically as 9.81 meters per second squared. To be grave means to be unwavering, to never change, and Time, as chronos , never changes. It is measurable at all times, and it is an action to manage our own lives that makes time measurable: we count hours, minutes, and seconds for where we have to be, what we have to get done. We know we can rely on Time because he is "grave, contemplative and grave."

"What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time's lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style."

The narrator inserts his own perspective in this stanza, indicated by the line that "I could share Time's lack of joy or grief." There is an island in the middle of the ocean, a resistance against the chronos of time. The "sunken reef" is also a last resort resilience against the eddies that surround it. Time is the eddies, who has a "lack of joy or grief." Time surrounds us like an army, robbing us of our emotions, whether good or bad.

It is, at times, liberating to not feel emotions, especially when such include depression, anxiety, grief, and devastation. I cannot fathom a world where a person would choose to feel any of these painful emotions, and I can say for myself that I could also share "Time's lack of joy or grief." But we must feel them. We have to, and I would say that all those negative emotions have simply made the joy I feel so much better. Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive emotions: they come together. I often find that the people in the most despair are

"I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept."

This stanza is one of my favorites in all of poetry, because I wonder, for the narrator, what "I myself have held." Renowned author, Wallace Stegner, has a famous book titled "Crossing to Safety" that references the fourth line in the stanza, that escaping Time has led the narrator to be in the area to Safety. He is "There," escaping chronos , drifting into kairos. The narrator is tempted - of that I am sure, to give way to Time's lack of joy or grief. He is tempted severely, but he can give all to Time's emotionless state "except/ What I myself have held."

What does the narrator hold? I believe, and this may be a misinterpretation, it is the ability to hold emotions, the ability to feel joy as well as depression and sadness. It is something he has kept, that he treasures.

So I say, to Robert Frost, to myself, and to you, that I, too could give all to time. I could surrender and relinquish everything I feel - from the sadness, anxiety, pain, betrayal, devastation, joy, gratitude, and solidarity. But I would not part with the experiences and feelings that I keep, and I have crossed to safety holding these parts of what make me who I am.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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5 Tips To Help You Feel Better If You're Sick

A few helpful tips if there's a bug going around.

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Not to brag, but I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. When I do find myself a little under the weather, there's a few things I like to do for a faster recovery. I have no idea if any of these are 100% accurate, but I'd like to think they do. None of these will immediately make you feel better, but they'll help quicken the process.

Drink lots of water.

This one is a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do sometimes. I know when I'm sick, I definitely don't think about it. Water can help flush toxins out of your body, makes you hydrated, and can help you feel more awake and energized! If you're not a huge water drinker like I am, Tea also helps.

Stay home.

If you're sick, it's honestly better if you just take a day off and focus on feeling better. If you're worried about going to school or work, it's better that you don't spread anything. Let me just say, I'm fairly certain the last time I caught something was because someone behind me in a class was coughing through the entire lecture.

Rest.

This one goes with the last point, but sleeping will help your immune system fight off any infections. It's good to take some time off and get any extra sleep you can.

Clean everything.

I like to wash all of my clothes and bed sheet, because they're what I wear and touch the most, especially my pillow cases. This will help get rid of some germs and stop them from spreading. It's also good to disinfect anything you touch often, like doorknobs and table surfaces.

Take medicine.

This one also sounds like a no brainer, but seriously if you expect to feel better soon you should be taking some sort of medicine. At the very least, it'll help with your symptoms, so you're not couching or sneezing every couple minutes.

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