Friday, March 23, 2012

Even Grief is a Fractal

Photo by Anna Reavis

What does it cost to lose those weeks, that light, the very nights in the year preferred over all others?  Can you evade the dying of the brightness? Or do you evade only its warning? Where are you left if you miss the message the blue nights bring?  Joan Didion in Blue Nights
            Discussing Blue Nights by Joan Didion is difficult for me.  This post will probably seem disjointed and unpolished.  I have found that Didion, in her two books about the deaths of her husband and daughter, has been able to express, clearly and beautifully, feelings and thoughts I have had in my own life that I have been unable even to think clearly, much less express.  I still find my thoughts here to be a seemingly endless jumble of roots and branches that overwhelm me, so I will note only two concepts that occurred to me as I read.
Most people, people who have lived normal lives, often can have no real idea why another person cries or grieves, and to try to name it is to disrespect and diminish it.  Sometimes the roots of grief are so spread out, so long, so wide, so all-encompassing that to try to use language to address or explain it is impossible.  It would be like trying to use music to pitch a baseball.
And sometimes, it seems almost as if the moments of wholeness and sweetness in our lives are too fleeting to be worth all the other moments of brokenness and emptiness.   But in those moments of perfection and wholeness that randomly flicker through my life, I think that the people I love are as beautiful as anything I’ve ever seen, and I am healed by that beauty.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So...Would That Be Wrong in a Parallel Universe?

“We’ll live quietly.  We won’t make waves.  Only each child is a wave.  Every breath we take is a wave.” Jake in 11/22/63 by Stephen King
            I’ve never read Stephen King before.  Well, not much, anyway.  I read pieces of The Shining at my son’s behest because he so loved the book.  I agreed that what I read of The Shining was very well written, but as it scared the bejesus out of me, I had to decline to read much.  I’m not going to rave about 11/22/63, because I am not a raver, but I was lost in this book for the last two weeks.  Books that claim me like that become my favorite reading memories.  Smoothly-written page turners that make you think are hard to come by. 
With the kind of synchronicity that’s been happening in my life lately and the kind of “harmony” Jake keeps finding in the threads of reality in the novel, while I was reading 11/22/63, I also happened to listen to a philosophy lecture on utilitarianism and deontology.   As I understand the two thought processes, a utilitarian believes that all choices should always further the cause of the greater good.  A deontologist, on the other hand, believes that there are certain moral rules that are never to be broken, even at any cost to the greater good.   (I prefer situational and relative ethics, but that’s off topic.) 
I don’ t know that I have any definitive answers to the questions posed by these philosophies (see off topic aside above) or to the question posed and answered by the novel’s plot, but I’m pretty sure it is always wrong to change things we don’t fully understand.  To play god with our limited human intelligence is arrogant and presumptuous and could very well be dangerous.    To consider the large-scale ramifications of every small decision we make would drive us all insane.  Better to try to live purely, to love freely, and to exist uniquely in every moment, thinking only to do no harm and to “suck out all the marrow of life.” (Thoreau)

Less Sure About Less

" And at fifty, Less muses drowsily, you're as likeable as you're going to get." I experienced a strange transitio...