Monday, December 22, 2014

I'm Trying to Tell you Something About my Life

I don't have time to read all the words. And I don't have time to listen to all the lyrics. Sometimes I try to branch out but I'm always left lonely and bitter about the time I've wasted trying to be a normal person with an open mind.

I have to narrow it down to what my heart trusts and then get stone drunk and addicted to it until there's nothing left. These addictions have fluctuated over the years. I went through my Shakespeare phase in high school. I memorized the hell out of Hamlet. The antic disposition, the Ophelia factor. The indecision, inaction, reticence - the misery. It belonged to me. I wrote every single term paper I could about that crazy dude. I became obsessed with the language, the perfect combination of words. I wanted to be defined by it.

There was also Doestoevsky and Bruce Springsteen. And then there was Dorothy Parker, a quick detour with Harry Chapin. In college, I idolized Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and The Cure.

These days, I've settled with these favorite five:

Barbara Kingsolver
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers (The Indigo Girls)
Toni Morrison
Margaret Atwood

They write the words that float abstractly in my brain. They're able to combine syllables in a way that is so surprisingly perfect that they enlighten pockets of truth, tucked just beneath the surface of everyday.

Do you ever find yourself alone in your car, driving to work, thinking about that one line in Beloved when Sethe says, "Today is always here. Tomorrow, never."

And my mind is full of Kingsolver. "What I want is so simple. I almost can't say it: elementary kindness." My heart belongs to Animal Dreams and don't even get me started on Poisonwood Bible.

The thing about addictions is that you get to know the addictee very well. When you've read every work, listened to every lyric, you become the best of friends, which is another word for stalker.

I admire them, not only for their perfect sentences but for their activism, their vision for a better world. I wring my hands with respect for them.

This year, I made a point to walk out of my comfort zone. I read books I would otherwise not have considered. For instance, I read a young adult novel, Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell, and I was CAPTIVATED. I fell in love with those characters. I was heartbroken at the end, left without closure.

But did it change the way I think? Did it challenge me? Did I come across a string of words that was so perfectly strung together that my heart understood something it didn't know before? Did I melt into a puddle of gratitude because of immaculate poetry and precise syntax?

No. And it's alright. I read a book and I liked it.

It's enough.