bleak and blue and sad-eyed

August 28, 2009

this is what art does for us. everyone has had those moments where a painting, a poem, a line, a song just perfectly crystallizes a moment for them, a feeling. whether it slams into you like a freight train or slips delicately between your ribs like a breath, it breaks your heart and fits into a place inside you, shows you your lies and your truths, all at once. 

There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding. […] If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace. 

–Marilynne Robinson, Home

my mom keeps telling me that my dad is open to whatever conversation i want to have, whether i have questions or i want to yell and scream, whatever. and i am steadfast in my refusal to even start that conversation, because if i allow it, if i open myself to hearing explanations or apologies, i open myself to the possibility of forgiveness. and, conversely, if i forgive, if i try to put things in the past and move forward, then i open myself to the possibility of understanding.

whichever direction understanding and forgiveness flow, i am not sure that i want either of these things. i am not sure i want to feel sympathy or empathy or anything else with my father. 

i have said before that i love sad songs, i love tragic art. beautifully rendered songs about heartbreak soothe me somehow, and i find it easy to sympathize with flawed characters. i passionately loved jack kerouac regardless of the fact that he denied his child and drank himself into an early grave. in some ways, i think i love these tragic, fucked up figures because they are not mine, because their pain is not mine, because i can understand them, forgive them, while giving up nothing of myself. i forgive them because i cannot forgive the flawed, fucked up people in my own life. i forgive kerouac his relationship with his daughter because i cannot forgive my own father without ripping open wounds long buried.

i am a long way from grace.


One comment

  1. Wow, beautiful post. It sounds like you are much closer then you think.

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