June 14th, 2011

Part of me longs to believe the media myth that we are all nice, middle class, happy.  And I’d like to believe this myth’s corollary that, if we’re not all of the above, buying the right products will magically make us so.    

When I soak myself in a numbing bath of tv viewing, I can relax into the myth letting go of anxious memory and moral responsibility.  As I sink into TVs’ warm bubble, reality becomes as flat as the screen I watch it on.  Pain, suffering, even the death of real people is as vicariously entertaining as that of fictional TV characters.

Why would I want to emerge from such comfort to live raw and exposed?  Why would I want to open my eyes to the collapse and corruption around me or feel the agony of those whose lives are twisted in the wreckage?  Likewise, why would I choose to weep for joy at the triumph of beauty and bravery, or celebrate the everyday heroes who endure?

 I’d like to believe that the answer to these questions is that I am a writer who has pledged to tell the truth even when it stabs at my heart.   But, oh, how I shrink from that responsibility! 

For years while raising my family, more immediate responsibilities prevailed, but now that I have space to write, the weight of previous silences presses on me, crushing out my breath and my voice. TV lures me to escape the ordeal.  Despair whispers in my ear, “What does it matter if you write?” “Nobody cares about what you’ve written,” “Who do you think you are anyway?”

My sisters in my writers’ group lift the weight from my chest, distract me from my favorite distraction, and croon, “Keep going, girl,” “I care,” “You can be anyone you want to be.”  Their writing, worthy though mainly unpublished, constantly reminds me how vital every person’s voice is to the complete picture. 

Together, we are becoming part of the vast tapestry created by storytellers and writers throughout history, those living and long gone, silenced and widely published, anonymous and well-known.