Sunday, July 1, 2018

Books Keep Us Free

There are quite a few books that I have had the pleasure of reading that have brought me a new depth and perception to my life that I never could have thought possible.  There are numberless books that have changed me.  There are so many many books that have caused me to lose hours and hours of much needed sleep, while I either read them, or relived them in my head.  There are only a few that have changed me, given me a new depth, and caused me to lose sleep not because I wanted to, but because I was haunted by them.

Hiroshima by John Hersey was a book that left images in my mind and heart that haunted me for a week afterward.  When I think of that novel, I feel the breath leaving my body, as if my lungs no longer work.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  The difference of this novel is that it is a work of pure fiction.  So I was able to eventually crawl out of the abyss this one threw me into.  However, what happens to the main character in this novel is an occurrence that happens much too often when it should never even be a whiff of imagination.  Young girls preyed upon, obsessed by, kidnapped, raped, murdered and the people who get away with it.  It is nothing one should ever have to know about, much less experience.  And the families left behind, torn apart by the not knowing and the evil that such a mark can leave on the world.  This work left me aching for those who have been through this, whether or not they survived.  It left me aching for families that were shattered by these things, and made me, as a mother, a basket case for quite some time.

The book I just completed yesterday is in the same mold.  The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. You can hear all the horrors and the heroic events of such a time, but it never prepares you for when it impresses itself upon you like a vice.  The images and the events spin around in my head like a whirlwind.  To imagine those who lived through it and had to carry on such horrifying nightmares from which most of their family never survived... there are no words that can comprehend it.  But there are words that can try.  This one mixes fiction with nonfiction, but to be honest, you knew when you were reading fiction and when you simply were not.

I couldn't even rate it on good reads because I could never say whether it was a good thing to have read it or not. I could never say I recommend it.  I could never say, "Read this, you'll love it." Because it terrified me. While immersed in its pages, reality felt like a dream that was too good.  I could barely comprehend the polar opposite that it was. Even now, I am left with these pieces of myself that I have to figure out how to reassemble.  And I know that when I am done, the picture will not be quite the same.

Each of these books has left a mark that will not come off.  I respect them for that, I thank them for that.  But I will never read any of these three books again.  I cannot experience them again.

I think of what I will write, and I think of why, and I know.  These books, this last one in particular, remind me of that.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Case of Re-entering Normalcy

Life after vacation does not exist.  It is the void that you step into when you think there are no more stairs.  There you are, falling into nothingness and there is no semblance of a floor that will not jar your joints into oblivion. 

When you go on vacation, they always talk of the anticipation, the planning, the execution, the joy of returning to your own home and bed, and even the "jet lag" you may get even without switching time zones.  What they fail to warn you of is the lack of motivation lasting for weeks afterward.  The inability to comprehend not just falling back into your routine, but falling back into your life as it exists.

Who knew depression existed on the other side of fun?

When I returned that first night, I was so excited to get back into writing.  And then the next day happened. I came home, and plodded through my evening, sat down to rest and relax, to eliminate the need to "do" anything.  And did just that.

Eliminated doing anything. For days.  Weeks.  I existed. I slept, ate a little, worked, came home, existed, slept, ate a little, worked... and that was who I was.

Even my children seemed to fall into the routine of nothingness.  Today, after missing my alarm because of all of our contagious nothingness, I arrived to work an hour and a half late and we all finally decided that this nothingness was dangerous.  So we did something today.  We did something this evening.  We cleaned or cooked or even did a few crafts.  And now, now I want to write. 

It's been welling up inside of me.  And once again, I find myself here, painting on a canvas that is no longer blank because I dared to splash it with color.  I love this part.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Snickerdoodles and Summer Journals

My mind is always racing with all I need to do to get from A to B. It reels and rams itself over and over into more and more to-dos and lists and whats and whys.  I often cause more anxiety than there actually is because I am so afraid to miss something that is seemingly important but in the vastness of life, is nothing of note. 

Right now my mind is sifting from one moment to the next, preparing for a summer vacation that is on our horizon.  My list of items to accomplish grows longer by the second and more intimidating than facing a firing squad. 

Writing is a way to slow all of it down.  To stop it all, leave life hanging in midair, and move into a realm where anxiety does not exist for me.  There are times when anxiety in my writing comes out.  When I think of timelines of how long it will take to do something, or when I want to set my "deadline" and I cannot make it.  That is when I realize that I am squeezing out the creation and inspiration, and inflate my writing with superfluity.  It's all hot air.

And when it is filled with hot air, it is time to let it go: let it rise up and away into the sky while you watch from below.  And when it is hidden in the clouds shaped like Donald Duck or a rhino in a bath, you turn your attention back to what it has always been meant to be.  Your sanity, your worlds, your dreams and hopes.  And lay out the story once more and continue onward.

If only I could apply this to my actual life.  Now there is an idea.