The last month was pretty exhausting for me. We had planned a family function at our home; the closest few were to gather after a long, long time. I would not have objected if we had delayed a get together of any form in these trying times of pandemic. However, this function was long overdue, and we could no longer avoid it. So with a slight uneasiness and a lot of uncertainty, we decided to go ahead with a smallish gathering.
Deep down, however, I was also anxiously awaiting to be surrounded by a few people after all. I wanted to take my mind away from the gloomy, saddening updates from the world over. This function lent the desired chance to do that. Isn’t it curious that the personal pressures allow you to be distracted, to momentarily stay aloof of the fact that the world around you is burning? Is it cynical? Selfish? Sure, it is. But sometimes selfishness is healthy for a burdened mind.
For a whole week, I was running around, planning for the event. I was exerting my body to the extreme. But the physical pain out of uninterrupted exertion is a lot less discomforting than the pain that any form of inertness inflicts on the mind.
As the day came to an end and I greeted adieus to my closest folks, I was left exhausted, but I had a big smile on my face. I felt a lot contented, at ease within. As if the difficult time had passed. So naive, yet freshening. If nothing else, I have accumulated a few memories that, surprisingly, aren’t blotted with the dull shadows of the pandemic.
Anyway, here’s a selection of this edition’s three brilliant works of writing. I hope they inspire you to word a few memories, a few uneasy thoughts of yours.
"Us and Them" by David Sedaris →
Because they had no TV, the Tomkeys were forced to talk during dinner. They had no idea how puny their lives were, and so they were not ashamed that a camera would have found them uninteresting. They did not know what attractive was or what dinner was supposed to look like or even what time people were supposed to eat. Sometimes they wouldn’t sit down until eight o'clock, long after everyone else had finished doing the dishes. During the meal, Mr. Tomkey would occasionally pound the table and point at his children with a fork, but the moment he finished, everyone would start laughing. I got the idea that he was imitating someone else, and wondered if he spied on us while we were eating.
“Why Write?” by Paul Auster →
It became a habit of mine never to leave the house without making sure I had a pencil in my pocket. It’s not that I had any particular plans for that pencil, but I didn’t want to be unprepared. I had been caught empty-handed once, and I wasn’t about to let it happen again. If nothing else, the years have taught me this: if there’s a pencil in your pocket, there’s a good chance that one day you’ll feel tempted to start using it. As I like to tell my children, that’s how I became a writer.
"It’s silly to be frightened of being dead" by Diana Athill →
I can’t remember when I read, or was told, that he [Montaigne] considered it a good thing to spend a short time every day thinking about death, thus getting used to its inevitability and coming to understand that something inevitable is natural and can’t be too bad, but it was in my early teens, and it struck me as a sensible idea. Of course I didn’t set out to think about death in a regular way every day, but I did think about it quite often, and sure enough, it worked. Why coming to see death’s naturalness should have caused belief in an afterlife to melt away, I am unsure, but it did. Probably that belief had been no more than an unexamined acceptance of something said by a grownup: in a child’s life there are many things more important to question than the probability of reuniting after death with other dead people – ideas that are tucked away on a back shelf of the mind like some object for which one has no use at present.
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Thank you for reading and sharing.