10.25.2009

essays






*Soon, we'll be adding this feature and I'm thrilled.  Because I think in stories and I'm most inspired by others'. *


We all have a story.  Not one we particularly assign to ourselves, but one that forges its way into "the biggest moment of our life."  It earns this permanent label that seems fluorescent at 10 year reunions or extended family dinners.  My sister's was falling into the Sound of Music fountain.  Mine has been the time I broke my back.  

It was October 1, 1998.  My very first semester of college.  I was wearing a long sleeved skater tee, high waisted Silver jeans and those Dr. Marten sandals with the chunky PVC soles.  I came to school with this fearlessness that showed itself best that day.  After becoming locked into my bedroom, I popped out the window screen, slipped over the edge, climbed until hanging and then realized my impossible quandary.  I was stuck.  I held on until my fingers failed me and then fell all forty feet.

I have hundreds of lucid memories: waking up to paralysis, calling on an urgent faith in God and the new holes in my very favorite shirt.  I remember slowly climbing three flight of stairs, collapsing on our scratchy living room carpet and telling my absent roommate to "call my mom."  I remember being tied to a plastic stretcher, the sting of my first catheter and being so cold during hours of x-rays.  I was confused by the peanut sized "sick" bowls and first cried when I finally talked to my mother on the emergency room's corded wall phone.  She delivered my diagnosis.

The thing is, these kind of stories linger and, after all these years, I've grown to hate mine.  No matter how I tell it, my story is somber.   Many times I've wished that hitchhiking Honduras, junior prom queen or the time I dove into a school of jellyfish would replace it.  A better portrait of me.

My life moved forward.  I traveled less and grew cautious and my stories became a bit more typical: a three hour labor, a Clomid pregnancy, a kitchen fire or the time a Bostonian rabbi bought our red Bajaj scooter with the temple funds.

It wasn't until William Carlos Williams reminded me (in my own interpretation) that we can be most inspired by a landscape and daily "ploughing", that I put the fear of my life and my Icarus type headlines going quite unnoticed- behind me.


According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned 
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning
-William Carlos Williams, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"


I have new stories.  They're simple, but those are my stories now.  And suddenly, I love this new vantage point.  Like a still life, "I see my own straining body which stands shaped like a star and realize gradually I am part of a human pyramid."  (Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family, page 27)  It's a better fit-- being sketched daily and, in time, becoming part of something bigger than myself.

That's why there always needs to be a place to tell our real stories.  I can't wait to hear yours.

3 comments:

酒店經紀ㄚ君姐姐 said...

I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

missy said...

I really, really loved this. I think this might be my favorite feature of this blog...can't wait for more.

Misti said...

Found your blog via Justin Hackworth...lovely! This series is awesome and I'm looking forward to more.