Monday, August 11, 2008

What's with all the death? - Gretzky

Welcome to life. - BeC

There’s been a lot of death going around. A week and a half ago it was a little boy with cancer. The past few days it's been Solzhenitsyn, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, and Mahmoud Darwish.

One of the homeless men in the park, Big Mike, is limping painfully up the hill towards Parnell's. His normal stride is smooth and easy, long legs rambling over the sidewalk. And there's an ambulance wailing down the street outside my window.

A woman asked the cloud: please enfold my loved one
My clothes are soaked with his blood
If you shall not be rain, my love
Be trees
Saturated with fertility, be trees
And if you shall not be trees, my love
Be a stone
Saturated with humidity, be a stone
And if you shall not be a stone, my love
Be a moon
In the loved one’s dream, be a moon
So said a woman to her son
In his funeral

Mahmoud Darwish, from A State of Siege

Of course, to paraphrase Dante, in the midst of death, there’s life going on all over, too. Friends got married this weekend, and we had a good time at Coffeehouse Saturday night.

I'm thinking about Falstaff today, about Hal, and Shakespeare's vision of death and what it means. And how our culture views death, its finality. I'm thinking a lot about how to live in light of our imminent departures, and I'm again reminded of Barbara Kingsolver's words from Animal Dreams, about what she wants - well, about what Hallie wants, in her letters to Codi:

I don't expect to see perfection before I die. Lord, if I did, I would have stuck my head in the oven back in Tucson, after hearing the stories of some of those refugees...What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you knew how to drive...You keep your eyes open, you see this damned to hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, "What life can I live that will let me breath in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?" (224)

...You ask why I'm not afraid of loving and losing, and that's my answer. Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work - that goes on, it adds up. It goes into the groun, into crops, into children's bellies and their bright eyes. Good things don't get lost. Codi, here's what I decided: the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That's about it...Right now I'm living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides. I can't tell you how good it feels. I wish you knew.

And also I've been listening a lot to my darling Kate Rusby, who says "I don’t really have long term plans apart from continuing to make the music we want to for as long as we can. You never know what’s going to happen so you just have to work hard and be good to people and hope life treats you well. " Here's hoping she does a North American tour at some point.

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

Beautiful. Looks like I will have to read Animal Dreams.