saying thank you into the darkness
Like any other sane half-United-Statesican raised in Perú, I have been growing increasingly consternated by the, er, phenomenon which is Donald Trump.
This, coupled with increasing heartsickness over the consumption-based economy that has been morally and spiritually bankrupting the world while violating our ecosphere at an ever-increasing rate, has pushed me further and further into something of a crisis.
It's not fair to ascribe external volition to what is really just the ugly sum-total of a thousand little unwise, unkind human decisions.
So let's say, rather, that faced with the ever-more-explicitly racist, selfish, obnoxious, deceitful political agenda of a large portion of my ostensible countrypersons, I have gradually been succumbing to a floppy sort of despair. Have chosen it, even, because it's so much easier.
One day a couple weeks ago, I got out my wife's typewriter and banged out a letter to a reclusive author who I consider to be one of the best living Arrangers-of-Words in the English language. I mean, if anybody could go into the pen-arena with David Foster Wallace and come out dripping more ink than blood, it's this guy.
Bang, bang, bang.
I pounded out my letter, venting about Trump and 'Murica and hopelessness, leading right up to the one question I most wanted to ask, one writer to another, about this whole fool's errand of mine... this attempt to write stories for a living:
Is it worth it?
Well, three days ago I got a letter in return.
A sixteen-page letter (if you count the additional bits he threw in: some poems, an essay of his, and a picture of Trump's face pasted onto one of William Blake's multi-headed demons).
A letter that had me reading in start-stops through choking tears, as he confronted me with a whole lot of kindness, a whole lot of wisdom, and a bunch of other stuff that I'm not going to talk about because it's personal and beautiful, and you don't take a gift like that from someone like that and splash it all over the internet.
I do want to pass on to you something he shared with me, though.
A poem about gratitude, the lack of which I do feel and have felt is pretty much the one, greatest obstacle standing between me as I am right now, and me as another Donald-Trump-Apostle-of-Scream.
Poems are little things. Delicate things. Easily overlooked. But I've been encouraged to return to them as a way of finding my hope, and this poem has been, I'm going to risk saying, a God-send.
The poem is "Thanks," by W.S. Merwin.
I've cut-and-pasted it here from the website poets.org.
I hope it speaks to you as it did to me:
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Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it smiling by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
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A FINAL NOTE: Writing is hard work, and the greatest reward for that work is to share it with others. So if you enjoyed this little (ad-free) piece of my brain... please share the love on your social internets.
And don't be afraid to pick up a copy of One of My Books, while you're at it.