Rereading writing from my teaching notebook this afternoon. Themes emerge. Below are three excerpts.
But first, some wisdom from Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life.”
She advocates writing about what most interests us, possibly a thing no one else could write but us. She counsels, like Jude does actually, to give it all away.
“Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?”
I’m not suggesting the paragraphs below meet that level of urgency but here they are anyway.
2/20 Prompt: something about Going Big
In the fraught days between impeachment and acquittal, women in black hold large letters spelling REMOVE TRUMP, protesting in silence because otherwise they might be arrested. They walk in repetitive loops as if enacting a strange monastic ritual or like an orderly colony of ants, because to be still, they’re told, is an impermissible barricade of the Senate halls and could also result in arrest.
The darkest hour might be before the dawn, but it’s also true that things die. Even Republics.
Heroes come, rise up, and are crucified, goes one story. Now all my heroines shout and shout again: “NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU. There is only us.”
On good days, this inspires. On bad days, a silent and sour question emerges: “Oh yeah? And what are WE going to do?”
2/20 Prompt: “Finally, you wonder, why does Gaia tolerate all this?”
How quickly we run into our obstinate, unyielding consumptive need! Maybe Gaia, being a goddess and all, doesn’t care if we make it as a species. Maybe Gaia doesn’t care if earth remains livable for human beings, either.
That’s kind of like what Ram Dass said that time he shared the stage with someone calling herself a visionary Christian, someone passionately committed to our survival, to our waking up to the nature of our self-destruction. Correct course! Before it’s too late! Ram Dass sat there, so alive, so himself, and asked the question right out: “Why should I be invested in our survival? In one result over another?”
4/20 Prompt: speak as a part of the body — I chose spine
We prepare for darkness, the dust to dust part. Such preparations are not morbid. In fact, they are joyous. How lovely to breathe. How lovely to breathe knowing one day you will not. We crumble and compress on our way to the grave. Such is the way of all structures, not just skeletons, but empires and republics.
Did it ever occur to you that much of your daily agonies arise from wanting, desperately wanting, our Republic to survive?