“But now he’s broody. He doesn’t talk. He goes walking alone in the hills at night. I went out to see him and–he’s been writing poetry–pages of it all over the table.”
“Didn’t you ever write poetry, Will?”
“I did not.”
“I have,” said Dessie. “Pages and pages of it all over the table.”
“I don’t want you to go.”
“Let me decide,” she said softly. “I’ve lost something. I want to try to find it again.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I am back to work after a weekend retreat to the back country. And the John Steinbeck novel is coursing through my veins this morning. I read the final two-hundred pages-plus of East of Eden while cozied up in my favorite store-off-the-grid. The dialogue above made me laugh out loud. Dessie wanted to leave her business and return to the ranch to live with her troubled brother Tom. Her business-minded brother Will was trying to dissuade her by relaying what he thought would be a troubling profile of Tom’s recent lifestyle. The grown-up sons and daughter were trying to cope with the death of their father Samuel whose passion was the glue that had held the family together:
Then Samuel died and the world shattered like a dish.
This sentence lingered in my consciousness all weekend while alone in the store. Painting, reading, writing and thinking sustained my spirits in the best of all possible ways the entire time, but I could not help pondering life and many of the people I know and love who share openly about these wounds that we all sustain. My closest friends know that the results of our recent election, along with its aftermath, have torn my spirit like a dull serrated knife. I find it necessary to disregard over three-fourths of facebook posts because they are talking about it–whether the posts are pro or con, the message is usually one of ugliness and hurt. And life since November has made it challenging to remain buoyant in spite of the culture that now envelops us.
But the pain I read in East of Eden is much more comprehensive, the kind of pain that punctuates lives throughout their duration. During the quiet hours of the weekend, I mused over the events of a lifetime, and how many tragedies the average individual absorbs. The video by R.E.M. returned to my memory: “Everybody Hurts.” Yet through it all, we continue to walk through this life, even if we walk with a limp. And perhaps the connective tissue that binds us as humans is the mutual regard we feel, recognizing that others hurt just as we do, and we all have the capacity to reach out to one another for support and understanding.
The weekend has been a real gift in that it offered space and quiet for uninterrupted thought and a chance to make some decisions that needed to be made.
Thanks for reading.
I make art in order to express.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.