May 27, 2011

nothing & something

I knew this point would come but knowledge of the coming struggle doesn't make it any easier.  It's all the harder for knowing it but still being powerless to effect it.  No caring for my brother.  No lectures to run through.  No brother at all, not even to forward email jokes to.  No exams to prepare for.  No medical or cancer questions to answer.  Nothing.  Nothing but the everyday routines of life.  It's hard to give a damn about those right now.  Even under the best of circumstances, I don't do well with the day in and day out aspects of life.  Add crushing defeat and I become my own worst enemy.  I turn a lot to literature to keep those demons at bay.  In this passage from East of Eden, an older gentleman named Samuel whom reminds me greatly of my dad is speaking with a friend, Adam, who has just suffered a tragedy and is now left with two newborn twins.

     Samuel sat down quietly, and he didn't trouble Adam by looking him too much, and he didn't trouble him by not looking at him.  The wind freshened in the treetops and a fringe of it ruffled Samuel's hair.  "I thought I'd better get back to the wells," Samuel said softly
     Adam's voice had gone rusty from lack of use.  "No," he said, "I don't want any wells.  I'll pay for the work you did."
     Samuel leaned over the basket and put his finger against the small palm of one of the twins and the fingers closed and held on.  "I guess the last bad habit a man will give up is advising."
     "I don't want advice."
     "Nobody does.  It's a giver's present.  Go through the motions, Adam."
     "What motions?"
     "Act out being alive, like a play.  And after a while, a long while, it will be true."
     "Why should I?" Adam asked.
     Samuel was looking at the twins.  "You're going to pass something down no matter what you do or if you do nothing.  Even if you let yourself go fallow, the weeds will grow and the brambles.  Something will grow."
     Adam did not answer, and Samuel stood up.  "I'll be back," he said.  "I'll be back again and again.  Go through the motions, Adam."

That's what I'm doing.  I'm going through the motions.  Hell, I'm not even doing that.  The past few days, I have set ridiculously low daily goals to accomplish like 'do a load of laundry and actually put it away' or 'mow the yard.'  It's all I can do to reach even those low marks.  I'm trusting in Samuel's words that 'something will grow' and that by engaging the grief as well as the day, I can have some impact on what grows.  It should be true, at least it was once before.  My dad gave me similar advice at an earlier point in my life when I felt stuck and couldn't go on.  Something will grow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I know we haven't met, but I just wanted to say I love you....

Perhaps on some day when we meet we can have a beer and just hang out (I promise, no hugs)