Sunday, December 13, 2009

Moving Thoughts, II

My office now has a few empty bookshelves, and boxes sit on the floor behind me. The hallway is lined with filled boxes. More filled boxes line the wall beside the piano. Empty banana boxes, waiting to be filled, are stacked in the corner of the piano room.

It's real. There's no going back at this point. We are moving. Soon someone else will be living here, and we'll be unpacking all those boxes in another place.

And I continue reading Kay Redfield Jamison's book Exuberance, where this passage struck me the other day:

Leon Wieseltier, in his remarkable book Kaddish, derides what he sees as the American preoccupation with moving on, "closure," tidying up painful experiences and memories. He is not speaking of exuberance, but his concern, the danger of disregarding the essential lessons of the past, is germane: "Americans really believe that the past is past," he writes. "They do not care to know that the past soaks the present like the light of a distant star. Things that are over do not end. They come inside us, and seek sanctuary in subjectivity. And there they live on, in the consciousness of individuals and communities."

While I think there is a healthy sort of what gets called "closure"--for example, helping traumatized people learn to integrate their experiences so that they are no longer haunted by them--I think Wieseltier is onto something real. American culture promotes an unhealthy kind of closure, and one that is out of touch with reality.

Without further commentary, I'll just say that as I'm packing up to leave this house with all its memories, I love to think that "the past soaks the present like the light of a distant star."

1 comment:

Lucy said...

That's wonderful writing isn't it? I like the 'distant star' quote, and also the idea that things 'seek sanctuary in subjectivity'.

Take good care of yourself at this time, moving house is a tough time, though for sure you'll enjoy making a lovely new home too.