Monday, October 26, 2009

A Christmas Cautionary Tale

This is a cautionary tale for writers who mean to write about and during the holidays.  My advice is DON’T.  I repeat:  DON’T.  To me it’s like going to the ocean to hear something profound.  The ocean doesn’t say a thing; it keeps its secrets and forever promises to reveal them.  The sea is a big damned liar.

The holidays don’t lie.  Their secrets are all over the place.  I go to a performance of Messiah every year just to be overwhelmed by it; to be left limp and ragged, uncomprehending.  I end up knowing the great truths I want to write and knowing I can’t write them on such an emotional overload.  Listen to Wordsworth and recollect in tranquility.  This cannot be done in season

On Christmas Eve I have been beneath the stars, the clouds, in rain, in snow, drunk, sober, with a love, alone, with a dog.  I have walked, run, biked.  I have felt moved and have never written a word worth a lick about the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holiday troika.  They menace me with auguries and never deliver them to the pen.  The paper awaits, lying there like a naked lover jilted at the last instant.

There is just too much going on.  The mind has no silence to move upon; even in long silences the truths cannot be stated, written, transposed into language.  Once I learned how helpless I am to get it right, I stopped trying.  The holidays must pass me by; let the poet sleep or shop or roast chestnuts and remain essentially thoughtless.

I am appalled at the great charade of the holidays and cannot even write about that.  The best I can do is read stories to my grandkids, balance the checkbook and feed the cats.  I would prefer to be alone to ponder and sleep; ponder the greatness of religion, life, my place in the cosmos and fall asleep every moment I shake my head to toss off the weight of what I’m trying to ponder.   Perhaps this poet was never meant to know the truth but, like the sea,  forever to be promising and unable to deliver.

So long for now.

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