Reading. No reading. Is this synchonicity or its opposite -- the Devil's work? (If creativity is from good orderly direction, is the devil the opposite? Detaining Environmental Vices I Like?) I have to admit that I haven't been much of a reader in recent years. Oh, Yahoo News and the paper, scanning Southern Living and email newsletters. But not really reading -- airport books (you know, the Baldacci and Patterson thrillers you pick up to fill the time on an airplane) and the chick lit that often pops up in my book club. I haven't been immersing myself in the salve of words that I know revives me. So...last week I was in San Francisco for my husband's birthday. On our way to dinner we walked past City Lights books -- where Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti hung out...read Howl OUT LOUD. Changed language (and maybe the world). We stopped in and looked around, and it didn't occur to me until the next day that I should have bought a volume of Beat poetry, little of which I've EVER read. Then, on the way to the airport, we ran across a little bookstore in Sausalito where I found a book by Roger Angell, fabulous sports writer (not THAT kind of sports writer. He writes about sports for The New Yorker.) And found out (how did I not know know this?) that he's the stepson of EB White, my favorite essayist of all time. I used to keep White's One Man's Meat at my bedside like a child's storybook. Angell's book, Let Me Finish, is about his growing up years, and he talks about life and White. So suddenly, I'm reading fabulous words, feeling inspired, and now AW cuts me off. God or devil?
Maybe that's what works about AW...you decide to go looking for God in circumstances, when either choice would have been an equally logical one. One of Angell's articles is about how EB White (Friends called him Andy. I love that.) suffered from dementia in his last few years. Wham...I was angry. That's what took my Mom. Damn God, damn a senseless universe that allows ends like this.
I also know that I need to be writing about my mom and dementia -- not because anybody needs to read it. Or, at least that's not what matters right now. I need to write about it to talk to myself about it -- because the books and talking to other people haven't done any good. Still angry, crazy angry. So maybe that's what I need to do this week -- write. Maybe it's just morning pages style writing...get it out. Maybe I can find some structure or balance. Maybe I can overcome the feeling that I have to write something that will help someone -- maybe I just have to write to help myself.
So I choose God, not Devil in the assignment Write...don't read. Write...don't read. Write...don't read.
Anything in anyone else's head like that? Paint...don't read (Elle Decor). Plan a trip...don't read (those dozen emails that have popped up while you were reading this). Finish that work project...don't read (so you'll have time to do what you want instead of procrastinating over a work that pays the bills). Say no...don't read (that email from someone who wants you take on a charity job that doesn't tug at your heart). I hope this week opens up a window for you. Ok, in all honesty, that would be nice. But all I REALLY hope is that it opens up a window for me. Now stop reading, huh?