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Beginning my studies
– Walt Whitman

BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact, consciousness—these forms—the power of motion,
The least insect or animal—the senses—eyesight—love;
The first step, I say, aw’d me and pleas’d me so much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish’d to go, any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time, to sing it in ecstatic songs.

I would have called this poem, “the first step.” The poem is all about how Whitman loving the journey that he has embarked upon. This is a journey of a student, a journey of a “Sikh”; he calls it “beginning my studies.” From what I have read from him, I believe Walt Whitman could have been America’s first celebrated sikh, one who realized the need for learning.

When Whitman started learning, he was so pleased by the first step. Every little detail of this step, the knowledge that he was taking the step, the power of moving that first foot, and the smallest lives he sees on his first step. Whitman is awe struck. He does not need to go any further. He has reached a state of bliss in his first step. He loiters around on his first step. Enamored, he keeps singing about his first step. Coming to the conclusion that every learner of life, every sikh comes to: that the purpose of life is to sing. Whitman sings his first step of learning. He is ecstatic.

Whitman is not so much different from a child in this poem. And I often think children do not have the baggage of adults and can really enjoy learning. They are awed by every new shape, every new color. The world seems so exciting. The child in us smiles when he is learning. Why is there a need to grow. If you remain at the first step you can make this smile stay forever.

Whitman is right. How beautiful is the first step! The first motion, first shape, first colors, first snow. Exhilarating! Shiv, savor the bliss of the first step of love until you can. It does not get any better.

This song would be sung in Raag Ramkali, the melody of “anand” or bliss.

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