Monday, June 25, 2018

Letting Go and Holding On

I've been returning to Annie Dillard's essay, Living Like Weasels. (Thanks, Chris.) I am particularly drawn to her last few paragraphs

her reflections on letting go,
"I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particularshall I suck warm blood, hold my tail high, walk with my footprints precisely over the prints of my hands?but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical sense and the dignity of living without bias or motive."
and holding on.
"I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you're going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles."
If you haven't read Living Like Weasels, I highly recommend finding and reading the entire essay to see these excerpts in context, and feel the full force of Annie Dillard's raw, rugged, inquisitive nature, and if you have read it, I suggest a return.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Spy of the First Person

Impermanence, 2018

I didn't even know it had been published. It was a library find. I don't think there's a better way to find a book than browsing.

I'm still in the trance this book, Sam Shepard's final work, Spy of the First Person, put me in. I can only describe this book as what appears to be an honest documentation of a creative mind making its final transition from here to wherever it is we go when we leave this place.

Although there is nothing about this slim book, with its strange dreamlike text surrounded by ample white space, that would classify it as a "page turner," it has a sense of urgency that once I'd picked it up would not let me put it down. It was much more like standing before Shepard in his rocking chair on his front porch and hearing him speak his final words than what I was actually doing, reading a book. I was not at all surprised to learn Patti Smith assisted Shepard in editing the manuscript.

"... I got to the hedge which was neither a camellia hedge or a hydrangea or anything like that. It was unidentifiable. There were white flowers coming out of it but I didn't quite know what they were. I can make him out through the white flowers, through the hedge. But I wasn't quite sure. I could make something out through there, but I wasn't sure what. Oh never mind, I'll figure it out later. That's the thing about later. You don't know what's coming up. You don't know how all the loose ends are going to gather together. Something for sure is going to happen but you don't know what it is. For instanceI'm outside, for instance. Out here with the birds and the bugs. Not exactly outside, but close enough. Just across the way. It's never like it was. The clouds. The big sky. The flowers. The chirping."

I'm now looking at everything I see through the lens of impermanence. The back cover categorizes the book as fiction, but it felt very real to me.