I Was the World in Which I Walked

My name is Sheila, and I’m a word-a-holic. I collect them, I store them, I love them. Occasionally I take them out of my hiding places and admire them again. Teresa does the same thing with words – but hers are published in books she takes from a shelf – books that have beautiful covers and words that are strung together in page after delicious page.

This past week I found a prized addition to my collection – a totally random sighting while I was waiting for T in the lobby of an office building. This jewel was engraved in very small letters on a large plaque as a kind of afterthought following the brief biography of an influential man of medicine.

I was the world in which I walked. – Wallace Stevens

I stared at the words…mulled over the words…and was knocked in the head with a bolt of fresh truth and knowledge.

I was the world in which I walked.

Uh oh, my little Voice of Reason whispered to me. You ought to be a bit more cautious in your complaints and cynicism and yes,  especially your downright negativity about “the world” being this or that because it turns out YOU are your world so that must mean the problems start with YOU.

Well, that was so frightening I decided to find out who Wallace Stevens was to make such an audacious statement of truth. I turned to my trusted friend Wikipedia and got an eyeful. His tagline was Poet, Insurance Executive. He was an American Modernist poet born in Pennsylvania in 1879 to affluent parents. He went to Harvard and the New York School of Law but spent most of his life working for the Hartford  insurance company in Connecticut where he was a vice-president until his death in 1955.

He started writing poetry later in life with his critically acclaimed works published after he turned 50. He won the National Book Award for Poetry twice: in 1951 and 1955. And he won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1955. Gosh, his world in which he walked must have been a bed of roses.

Not so fast, my friend. Wally’s World was quite messy. The woman he married in 1909 had been a saleswoman, a milliner and a stenographer; his family opted to boycott the wedding because she wasn’t quite up to snuff, as we say in Texas. Wallace never spoke to his parents again during his father’s lifetime.

From 1922 – 1940 Mr. Stevens spent a great deal of time in Key West, which became an inspiration for his poetry. That was the good news. The bad news was he didn’t play well with others and had unseemly arguments with Robert Frost whenever they were in Key West at the same time. As for his relationship with Ernest Hemingway in Key West, well apparently their disagreements turned to fisticuffs with Wallace having a broken hand and Hemingway a broken jaw in one of their notorious spats.

So Wallace Stevens was, like most of us, a man who had been at least two worlds in which he walked… so I felt better about my negativity that, to date, has not caused me to come to physical blows with anyone but perhaps needs to be toned down a notch or two  with a more regular nod to the positives in which I walk.

You are the world in which you walk. Chew on that for an extra minute tonight.


P.S. One of the more memorable quotes Teresa said to me when we first met was, “I think insurance companies are the scum of the earth.” At the time, I was an insurance agent. We’ve come a long way, baby.



About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I Was the World in Which I Walked

  1. Pingback: I Was the World in Which I Walked | I'll Call It Like I See It

  2. Bob says:

    Hi Sheila! I, too, am a Word-a-holic, and this one knocked me for a loop, too.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bob, I LOVE to meet a fellow Word-a-holic – particularly when the meetings can be held in cyberspace! 🙂

      I was absolutely stunned when I saw this one. I literally stood there and stared. It was in the lobby of the Moore Orthopedic Building in Lexington, of all places. So much about life in a few words. Those are always the best ones.

      I’m wondering what to do with my word collection when I am no longer here. Any suggestions? Perhaps we shoule start a Museum of Word Collections – not to be confused with a Library, of course.

      Thanks so much for all you do to support my words!

      Hugs and kisses,



  3. Laurie says:

    Love THIS!!!!!!


    • Hi Laurie,
      I so much appreciate your reading my work – I was very pleased this last week because one of the stories I first published on this blog was included in an anthology that just came out: Mothers and Other Creatures, a bioStories Anthology. It’s available on Amazon and will be in indie stores through a distributor before long, according to Mark who is the publisher. This is the third anthology my essays have been published in, and it’s always great to be included!
      You guys be careful – hope to see you before long!


  4. “I collect them, I store them, I love them. Occasionally I take them out of my hiding places and admire them again.”
    I do the same thing with sentences. These two are great!

    Liked by 1 person

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