Wed 20 Sep 2006
Should I be talking about tacos? Last week my friends lost their son. I noted it on the blog, and then within a few days was onto squirmy wormies and tacos. It’s a version of a question that keeps recurring in my writing life, a choice that is never made once and for all. The first reason I ask the question is because, as fellow blogger Julie has so eloquently explained, after a death one feels the world should stop and acknowledge the enormous loss; the world should somehow show it is affected. The world will not stop, but friends and family can. We can create a space to honor and remember.
The second reason I ask is because devoting similar space to both large events and trivialities may appear to grant them equivalence. Newspapers give the most space and the best spots to the most important stories– does this quantitative representation of value in journalism carry over to essays and blog journals and fiction and poetry?
I tell my students that the chief requirement for a piece of writing to be worthy of a reader is that it be interesting. (An exaggeration). On the other end of the spectrum, I got fired from the university newspaper for refusing to write columns about anything other than religious virtues. I haven’t read those pieces in many years and so can’t testify to their literary merit one way or the other. At the time it seemed frivilous and vain to wastespace on random thoughts and irrelevant opinions, as I had done (rather successfully) the year before. My 20-year-old self would probably find this blog a crashing betrayal of her ideals.
And yet. To notice or desire one thing is not to forget or devalue another. My skin smells a little stale, my hair feels stiff due to tangles. The rock tumbler in the closet grinds like gnashing teeth in the closet. Beyond physical sensations there are the fragments of thought and influence. There is Ezekiel, who left that place with “anger and bitterness, and the strong hand of the Lord upon [him]“. There is my brother’s new song Groovybaby, LSU’s This is the Healing, Milton’s “mazy error” of nectar running through a soon-to-be-lost paradise. A few layers beneath that I find an area I might call constant prayer, where those I love remain. This is the part of me that is sort of metaphorically lifting each one up before God, into a big swoop of love, truth, and consolation. Sometimes a face or situation will push through the other layers and occupy my thoughts and prayers, canceling out all other concerns. Other times I drop down to visit and float through the love-swoop.
All these things coexist. I want tacos, and I grieve with a friend. I imagine how Project Runway will turn out tonight, and I rejoice about news of an upcoming marriage. Should I write only about what is most important? Do I need to give the big things more room?
I guess today I will let the big things themselves make room. Here, in one of the loveliest things I have read in months, is Mike’s tribute to his son.