It strikes me as privilege to begin again. For a door to open when before there were only walls. There is no doubt my life has unfolded with tremendous privilege from the get-go. My first memorable do-over happened at 16 when living at home with my parents no longer suited any of us in that scenario. The whys are a whole other story, but after a short search, my parents landed me in a New England boarding school for my last two years of high school. Standing in a dorm room with my mother, my trunk and suitcase unpacked next to my unmade extra-long single, she told me, in no uncertain terms, to break from my childhood nickname, from all the troubles incurred in my childhood home, and leave behind everything that still tied me down. This is your chance, she whispered before leaving me in that unknown landscape. Needless to say, I stumbled, only to find myself lost in the dark, unprepared for such broad horizons. I was raised in the dust-storm of a large household not sure what part of me was me; I found myself hesitant what to choose when the whole palette of decisions was there for me to pick from. So confused, I fell into the blackness of night for many years. As Katherine May so artfully described, “Winter had begun.”
“By winter, she means not just the cold season, but “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider“” (Mcalpin).
One by one the lamps were all extinguished, except that Mr. Carmichael, who liked to lie awake a little reading Virgil, kept his candle burning rather longer than the rest… [Mr. Carmichael brought out a volume of poems that spring, which had an unexpected success. The war, people said, had revived their interest in poetry] (Woolf, To the Lighthouse). Much like the characters in Woolf’s novel, we too, only yesterday, took a step away from our four year war against lies and misinformation, against bigotry and racism, against incivility and immorality, seeking solace from an elder statesman and a young poet, and on a historic Inauguration day, we got more than we could have hoped for in the wisdom of President Biden and the spoken poetry of Amanda Gorman. Unity. Light. A reminder of our America.
Who let the dogs out? I think we all know the answer to that…
This week, in the unraveling after Trumps’ rally to March and Attack the Capital along with the elected officials and the police protecting them, I have been reminded of the frightening side of human nature. We all like to think the very best of ourselves and of each other. Each day I tell myself to rise up and move on. To follow the good news and do what I can to make the world shine just a bit brighter. To make my way with hope. And I think this is how we all view our life. But right now, I’m crushed by the ignorance, the credulity, and the indifference that resides in too many Americans. Sadly, we have been here before. Even a superficial understanding of history will underscore this tragic point. But I find myself desperate for reasons if only to face another tomorrow.