Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week of Reminders of Fragility

In many ways, this has been a tough week, with lots of reminders of how fragile life can be.  The mother of a colleague at work fell and had to have several surgeries--that same colleague had to have an emergency root canal yesterday.

There have been the deaths.  I've already written a post about Marvin Hamlisch.  Yesterday, I heard of the death of David Rakoff, whose voice is familiar to me from various NPR shows.  Now I've added his books to my list of books to read.

If you're wondering why we should care about the death of Rakoff, listen to this show that Fresh Air offered yesterday.  Or go to this wonderful piece by Linda Holmes and make sure to click on the second embedded video.  By the end, I was weeping.

Was I weeping because David Rakoff was my age?  Yes.  Was I weeping because I've already had a battering week?  Yes.  But more, I was weeping because one more great mind has been lost, and we are left here amidst the ugliness of the world, stranded with tales of ugliness from the campaign scene.  I am weary.

It's been yet another week of hearing of presses closing; Jeannine Hall Gailey sums up those dreadful developments neatly in this post.  Will I ever have a book with a spine?  I remind myself that just a few weeks ago, I created a chapbook that made me really happy.  One of my writing projects for fall is to expand that chapbook into a full-length manuscript.  Will it ever be published?  I remind myself that it's not up to me.  All I can do is to do the best work I can.

I need those same reminders at my day job as college administrator.  It's been the kind of week where students come to me to help them with troubles they're having with their classes and their teachers, as if I have some magic spell I can utter over them or some talisman.  Or maybe they want me to punish their teachers, as if they're diners complaining to the manager about a bad waitress.  I just offer them the same advice I offer myself:  "Try again.  Approach the rest of your time in this class with a more open heart.  Ask your teacher what you can do to salvage this class.  It's fixable."

It's been a week with rumors of bad news soon to come at work; rumors of tough budgets and all those implications swirl and thicken in the distance.  The atmosphere sours.

Again, all I can do is show up and see what each day brings.  Each day, I think about alternate careers, like going to seminary to become a hospice chaplain.

And the universe chuckles fondly and says, "Really, dear, you can be a hospice chaplain right where you are.  No need to change careers."


Jeannine said...

It's a troubling time for anyone selling or trying to sell any kind of book - not just poetry - as bookstores and publishers shut down under market pressures. I'm keeping an eye on Poet Collin Kelly's blog and twitter, because he keeps up with all the latest publishing trends and technologies - my bet is in five years, we will be staring the face of a whole brave new world of what "books" "publishing" and "bookstore" mean.

Lucille in CT said...

This was a great post and I found myself chuckling fondly at the end when you mentioned the "alternate careers" and going to seminary and about "being a hospice chaplain right where you are". I could have written that!

I, too, often contemplate the same "alternate" career. And then I am perpetually (and I mean perpetually)reminded that it's not going to matter where I'm working, I can reach people and be of service even in this silly cubicle work here. I just have to see it that way.


Kristin said...

Jeannine, I think you're right; I'm trying not to be afraid of the future. Maybe it will be brighter than we can conceive.

Lucille, thanks for commenting--good to know I'm not alone.