Perhaps the only poem that I can still recite from memory is Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody.” I learned it in junior high and it stuck with me:
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us?
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
I recently went to an exhibit of photographs taken by Vivian Maier, a nanny who always carried a camera with her but for whatever reason—fear, lack of confidence, humility—never thought to share her work with anyone. Her talent was only discovered when a stranger bought boxes from her storage locker at auction.
Much has been written about—and read into—Emily Dickinson’s extremely private life, and like her, I imagine we’ll never know the full story about Vivian Maier. Though surely many factors made them who they were, I’d like to think their privacy allowed for a contemplative life in which they cultivated humility along with incredible talent.
I’ve been talking about creating “MeganSweas.com” for years, but something kept me from doing it. I’m not sure it’s humility, or because I’ve devoted my life to capturing beauty in unexpected places or conceiving of hope as “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” I blog as an editor at USCatholic.org and want to write for other publications as well—and I know a website is important for doing that.
In this age of social media, I live with tension between a private life and a shared life. Nevertheless, here I am, developing a website and blog, telling my name to a hopefully admiring bog.