The Soul selects her own Society --
Then -- shuts the Door --
To her divine Majority --
Present no more --
Unmoved -- she notes the Chariots -- pausing --
At her low Gate --
Unmoved -- an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat --
I've known her -- from an ample nation --
Choose One --
Then -- close the Valves of her attention --
Like Stone --
Emily Dickinson, 1862
How do we choose those we let in to the society of our soul? Of the thousands of people we interact with, what causes us to pick just a handful or so? With some, I suppose, it is a shared history, a familiarity with our past and our personalities, a long build up of storms weathered and sunny days enjoyed together. With others, perhaps, it is simply proximity. We see them day in and day out and force of habit creates a sort of convenient intimacy. But then there are others who we meet and we suddenly know. We deliberately open ourselves, show our vulnerable spots, tread lightly around theirs. Often there is a heady rush of infatuation or passion, and we do not know whether that in time will mellow out into friendship or love or simply fade away into indifference. One cannot know at the beginning what end will come, or when.
It is a risk, then, to choose one above all others and then to shut the Door. What if the one you choose does not choose you? Or what if the one you choose today is not the one you would have chosen tomorrow? And one can be tempted to minimize that risk--by choosing no one, or by never shutting the Door. The first way is cold and lonely, the second way perhaps leads to the same thing in the end. For if we are constantly looking for the next chariot to stop at the gate, how can we welcome in the one that is already there?