Saturday, March 03, 2012

Unanswerable Questions

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." - Rainer Maria Rilke

I don't feel like writing today, but I'm writing anyway because that's what writers do.

Last week a coworker of Ed's who was also a friend died. This week a friend of both of ours died. Good men they were. Middle aged. One 49 and the other 56. Gentle men who had a kind word for everyone and who often made both Ed and I smile. This dying business is not unusual, but I feel a deeper sadness about these deaths. I am altered by them.

I tried to think of something else to write about and it wasn't working. Then I remembered Natalie Goldberg's admonition to "go for the jugular." She used to tell us, when there was something we were trying to avoid, that we must write directly into it. If we did not, she said, the thing we wanted to push away would still be with us silently on the page nudging aside whatever else we tried to work on. And so I heed her command.

I just feel sad. There is the unanswerable question of why these men and not some others are gone. Men with children. Men with families. Men who lived good lives. Why them? And it raises more selfish questions about the closer loved ones I have lost. Why my niece? Why the young? Why anyone, really? And there is no answer. And so I will also take Rilke's suggestion and just try to love the question.

On my eight-mile run today I thought about these men and the many others who have died before them. And I felt the gratitude I have for my husband, our dog, our home, and the other family members and friends I am so honored to have in my life. And I summoned gratitude for the time I got to spend with the men who died so recently. And I felt the wind on my face and my legs moving beneath me and smelled the hint of spring in the air. I felt sadness mixed with joy and the strange blend of everything that makes a human life.

When I got home, I wrote it all down and I'm giving it to you because I don't know what else to say. This is what is real right now. This is what is here in front of me. And now it is yours. I offer it to you to do with as you wish, but I hope you will take a moment to write about what you love and what you have lost and about the unanswerable questions.

And if you feel moved to comment below and share some of these things from your life, I would love to hear about them. Just click the little "post a comment" link below.