~ Elizabeth Barret Browning
One silly, mind numbing, but all consuming recent hobby of mine has been Facebook. It's been a lovely way to reconnect with old friends, and get to know new ones better. It's given a medium for friends and family, separated by thousands of miles, to stay in touch each day. Most of all, it is simply entertaining. Facebook has many features....from being able to upload photos to sending virtual gifts. It also has an innumerable number of quizzes. These inaccurate, but amusing tests, remind me of the ones my preteen self used to take in "Seventeen" magazine. At that time, I did enjoy the fashions and the hairstyle tips, but what I waited for, month after month, was the quiz of the month. It was my favorite feature of each issue. I vividly recall my friends and I writing our answers, not in the magazine, but on scraps of paper, so that we could compare our answers to "Is He The Guy for You?" and "What is Your Dream Date?". On Facebook, not only do we have hundreds of quizzes available to take immediately and compare outcomes with our friends, but we don't have a wait for the next magazine to receive the next quiz. It's a goofy habit that takes me back to the 'old days' of middle school....with the thought that choosing answers A, B, C or D will shed light on our innermost thoughts and unconscious desires.
I have taken dozens of Facebook quizzes since joining the online service. I've learned which book of the Bible most describes my life (The Book of Ruth), my Hippie Name (Gypsy Willow Dusk), What Type of Shoe I am (Ballerina Flat), Which Breed of Dog I am (a Fox Terrier) and that my predominant color is Blue. I have discovered that, as far as Disney Princesses are concerned, I'm Sleeping Beauty. According to the quizzes, I have learned that I should be most compatible with a Pisces (my cousin is the only Pisces I know), that I will give birth to 3 girls (not even close to the the mark) and that I should be living, for some reason I can't discern, in South Dakota. Therefore, it came as a great surprise to me when I took the "What Quote Represents your Life?" quiz this morning, to have Facebook bring up one of my truly favorite poems.
Written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her book of verses, "Songs from the Portuguese", this poem describes loving another (in her case, her beloved husband, Robert Browning) person to the deepest depths in one's bones, to the most soaring heights of one's soul. Published in 1850, this poem's vitality and emotion has not dimmed over time. My husband gently teases me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I find myself in good company on this front: clearly Elizabeth Barrett Browning did the same. "How Do I love Thee?" not only describes how much I love my husband of more than 2o years, but how much I adore my children, my family, my precious animals and my closest friends. The emotion expressed conveys the sentiments I feel when I watch a film that moves me deeply or read a book that touches my heart. Each time I reread this poem, I find deeper meaning into its spiritual profundity of the sacredness of love. While some critics like to dismiss this work as trite, sentimental or banal, I believe these same critics most certainly have not felt the power of extraordinary love before. In a sense, I feel sorry for those very same critics. I believe I have been uncommonly blessed not only to love as deeply as Ms. Barrett Browning did, but to have been loved in return with the same fierceness and regard.
Certainly all quizzes on Facebook are not as profound as this one has been for me. I don't think it crucial that knowing that the "Cocktail that best suits me" is a Samoan Fogcutter, nor do I believe that "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" is the story of my life. While I find that "The Type of Storm I am" (a snowstorm) is interesting, it doesn't bear much on deeper insights to my ideal self. But, I do believe that, in this one random instance, Facebook was frighteningly correct, on target, exact and precise. This poem is my favorite, I do believe it does represent me, and I am incredibly proud of that fact.
Now, if only my "Soul Animal" wasn't set to be a badger, I'd be all set.