Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reading, writing and living

I can't say that fall lends itself more to reading then any other season for me. Although the notion sounds romantic, with days shortening and the fireplace beckoning.
There is not more time than on long summer days, beach side. Or snow covered winter afternoons, when others go skiing. Reading has been for decades on top of my priorities. It's what I do. My family will attest to it. And the dirt under the sofa as well.
I am also a survivor through reading. For books have always helped me cope. And imagine.

I have begun writing too, which now takes the other half of my time, after I care for my family. And read. I have become more reclusive, turn away from much entertainment and hole myself up, happily.
It's a strange state of affairs. I still can't fully think of myself as a writer.
But writing I do.


I picked up a writer's magazine yesterday, showing a sad and painfully thin Joan Didion on it's cover.
I have read her haunting account of her husband's death in  'The Year Of Magical Thinking'. A book which filled me likewise with sadness and hope.

Joan Didion

She has an extraordinary eye for reality. Her essays have interested me more then her other writing, telling me of an America from the 6o's and 70's I never knew.
Now she has written a new memoir, about loosing her daughter. The book is called 'Blue Nights'. It will be out this November.
So many of my own fears and feelings, I imagine, will be touched.


It reminded me also of the writer Isabelle Allende's daughter Paula and her untimely  death at age 28 and Allende's subsequent book with the same name.
I always fear the loss of any of my four children, a fear, parents experience at many given challenges to let go. And yet, mercifully, we rarely experience the death of a child in our days, thanks to the advances in medicine and our daily awareness of luring danger. (I am aware that it is not so in many parts of the world until today)
When it happens, it seems, we are struck harder. Although I think of it as a misconception, since neither the mass death of children through epidemics or common childhood deceases could surely have had anyone getting used to it. Nor the death of a single child. Maybe hardened. I can see why mothers hardly smiled in pictures of long ago. How many of them experienced terrible losses?
Of course there are other ways of loosing children. Through divorce or alcohol, drugs or neglect.
Having experienced it myself I know what millions of divorced parents feel. Also as a child, coming from a family where divorce would have been a better choice for so many reasons.
So much is touched and broken open again.
Yet there is hope for me, all my children are well and my husband sitting next to me.
I am writing and filling in the pains of years past with my own magical thinking, my
writing and memories. I capture them and make them obey to the demands of my soul.


There are other books which have given me a chance to think back to experiences I tried to come to terms with, the oddness I felt as a child, the not belonging, my teen years living with an abusive, alcoholic father and a weak, depressed mother.
Just a few days ago I finished reading Jennifer Haigh's novel 'Faith'. A book about keeping or loosing faith in people, a family under extraordinary circumstances. A book through our book club, which I liked against my previous thoughts.

A few days ago a 20 year old boy from our neighborhood was found dead on the street.  A suicidal overdose after a short career of alcohol and drug abuse, a young mind criminalized through his habits, coming from a 'dysfunctional' family and what must have been unimaginable hopelessness and loneliness. I did not know the boy, nor his family, but it did not let me sleep. I kept thinking about him and his missed life.

And again I am pushing myself to think positive, stay optimistic and hopeful. Against doubt and the dark walls, which sometimes build themselves up around me.
These are the moments, when I feel the most connected to life, when I feel my soul intact and guiding me towards the future, my dreams and the one's of my husband and children. Where I see what's possible and what I still can do!
I am a reader.
I am a writer.
I am alive.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful that you are in touch with your heart and feel the pain and joy of this life from reading, writing and living all about it.
    I hope you always follow your heart.... I too love Joan Didion and her writing.
    so saddened about that young life shortened too suddenly.


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