Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category
There are a few interviews I’ve heard which I believe I will still remember when I am very old and very grey. Two are with Terry Gross: her heart-rending last talk with Maurice Sendak, and this equally heart-opening conversation with Barry Lopez.
Most of us know Barry Lopez as a profound, clear articulator of nature and of human life within it. But recently, he wrote an article for Harper’s about an extended episode of sexual abuse that he experienced as a child. His capacity to engage openly about this with Terry Gross, and the incredible integrity of his outlook, leaves me in awe. At the end, his honesty overwhelmed me, in his willingness to acknowledge how writing this article has brought him back to a shaky place.
Barry: “Publishing this piece has — I have felt this sense of falling backward, to be honest with you, of going back into these places I have not been for years, where I’m terrified.”
Terry: “Still terrified?”
Barry: “It never leaves you. The best you can hope for is the maintenance of your own integrity, and really what you pray for is the company of people who pass no judgment.”
It’s not simple, reopening the demon-closets of the past. And contrary to popular psychology, it’s not all “therapeutic”; there is great cost associated with retraveling paths wet with our own pain. But there can also be great gift - for our wounded shadow souls, yes, but also for those whose paths to freedom we illuminate as we try to “lean into the light.”
Multitasking is a highly valued skill in American culture, especially in business, nonprofit management, etc. It has even become an ideal in the home — moms who do everything to keep our little beings full of delight and activity.
I have become a successfully efficient but thorough multitasker. From an economic perspective, and from a household standpoint, this is tremendously useful. But from a me-standpoint, it is hard to ignore the multi-tasks that await; as if in learning to think in five streams at once, it is hard to silence myself to only one creek.
At the ocean, I can think properly, undivided. But it is tremendously hard in my home, with the nagging claims of everything that needs to be done. As someone who works from home, writes from home, teaches my children at home, and tries to be home at home, I am challenged out of mindfulness.
My friend, Mike McLaren, gave me Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness last week. How shall I wash the dishes to wash the dishes? Can I give myself that permission? These days, I feel like the only down time I can take is scheduled restraint from the world, e.g. yoga class. Can I afford to lose four or five rivers at any given moment?
Am I willing?