Sunday, August 29, 2010

If You Read

If you read enough certain passages become part of you; they fold themselves into your DNA and it seems as if they have always been there for their beauty or truth is so pervasive you cannot remember a time when that beauty, that truth did not define part of your soul.

Do I have to say it? If you do not read, if you have not found solace or courage in the words of those who've walked where you are now walking, then you are seriously fucked.

Language, written language is unique among the various ways we communicate, for here we surely commune with the dead, here we know minds unknown to us, here we touch the breadth of human experience and find, in the end, that all that wanderlust is solely about love.

I remember listening to George Harrison as a kid and being blown away - blown away, I say! - that his lyrics could be read as a love song to God or a woman. Genius, I thought, pure genius. In time I learned there was no distinction - they were the same.

* * *

I shall never forget how I awoke from the deep sleep of exhaustion on my second night in Auschwitz - roused by music. The senior warden of the hut had some kind of celebration in his room, which was near the entrance of the hut. Tipsy voices bawled some hackneyed tunes. Suddenly there was a silence and into the night a violin sang a desperately sad tango, an unusual tune not spoiled by frequent playing. The violin wept and a part of me wept with it, for on that same day someone had a twenty-fourth birthday. That someone lay in another part of the Auschwitz camp, possibly only a few hundred or a thousand yards away, and yet completely out of reach. That someone was my wife.

- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

* * *

How could I have lived over 40 years and not known this? What else have I missed?

The question begs only one answer - everything. The fucked life misses, doesn't recognize the gifts and markers that litter the road, offering their measure of comfort, solace, encouragement and yes, love, to see you through.

I kept waiting for someone, anyone, to put the User's Manual in my hands so I would know how to live. Religion did not stir me, but instead felt like a prison. The occult seemed like wish fulfillment. Cynicism was smug and superior and lifeless. And always I read, hoping to find THE book. But it does not exist as a sole book. It is comprised of thousands and thousands of stories told across the entire span of human experience. It is the task of each life to learn those stories that echo inside them, that draw them closer to their own story.

The fucked life doesn't know how to tell a story or take a joke or recognize when the story is written as if only for them.

* * *

I came indoors. I made up my mind I would write this very night what have happened to me today. I have never written so much at one go. It is near on midnight, and I am writing yet; but now it is death and what come after I am thinking of. There is no after; it will only be now. I don't believe, I don't believe in the harps and the big fire, and the wheat and the tares, and the sheep and the goats; for the Day of Judgment is the Day of Forgiveness, and the repentant and the unrepentant sinner are with Christ in Paradise. I hear Christine singing:

O Love, that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee!

Sing, Christine, sing! Be not bitter, as Lot's wife was. Forgive them, forgive them; for they have loved much!...I wish I could live my life again. I wish I could write my story again. I have judged people. I do not want to judge people. I want to bless. I want to bless every soul who have ever lived and laughed and suffered on this whore of an island, this island in the sun, this island in God's sea!

I am on the last page of the last of my three big books. Who will ever believe I have written these three big books? I want to write another. Next time I go to Town, I will buy another from the Press. I want to write down in it all the good thoughts I have left out in this. Now it is high time I thought of going to bed. I musn't forget to wind the clock; and I will turn the lamp down, but not right out. I don't like it in the dark. I like to be able to see my two china dogs while I am falling asleep. Damme, I am tired, me! I will sleep well tonight, I know. Ah, well that is all for now. A la prochaine!

- GB Edwards, The Book of Ebeneezer LePage

* * *

It is only, and always about one thing: love.

If you don't get that, then you're fucked because the answer is all around you. Just walk into a library. Just listen when the guards play the music. It is there, right there. I walked by it for years and years, but now know love is something more than desire; it is also surrender to that which illuminates your life, and provides meaning to your death.

Or not, and you just stay as you are: fucked.

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