Monday, February 2, 2015

Realer and Realer...That's a Word, Right?

I just finished a book by an incredible writer. Migratory Animals, by Mary Helen Spect, is just a little beyond me. It's as if I'm standing in a group of artists (I know they are artists because they are all very cool looking, dressed in black with slightly messy hair) who are speaking a language I can't quite piece together. I know the individual words. I just can't quite get the gist. I'm standing on the outside of a book, wishing I was smarter. If I was smarter, I could tell stories like this writer. Oh, wait.  I'm doing that deadly comparison thing again. The one that makes me hesitate to put my own writing out there. Is that why I'm blogging? To keep from writing the books?

On Friday night my husband, Bob, and I went to a fancy seafood restaurant. We spend a bundle and got some fabulous food. When we got home, I was thinking about how fortunate we are, how my grandparents would never have gotten to eat at place like that. That got me thinking about my grandmothers' cooking. Both of them were wonderful cooks. Simple food made perfectly. My farm grandma made the best fried chicken (a bird who has never been in the refrigerator before it is cooked is a different animal from the supermarket chicken) and the best, flakiest, biscuits you can possibly imagine. Her vegetables were fresh from the garden or from mason jars where they were "put up" with love and care. The butter she made by shaking a large jar until the creamy solids came together. She cooked from a wheelchair from the time I was a young teen, pulling herself around her messy kitchen with one foot, putting food on the table that lives on in my memory. And she laughed so much and so often, it is a sound that I long to hear again.

You know where I am going with this. I think I do, too. If I were to eat a meal prepared by a famous chef, spent time to recover from it, and then ate my grandma's chicken and biscuits, which would be better?

If writers are charged with telling the truth, who is out there who knows the universal truth for all time? Who knew more about life and loss and victory and surrender than Pooh and Piglet? How long does it take to become real? The velvet gets rubbed off regardless of whether it is loved off or scraped off by happenstance.

We know when we read the truth. We know when we stand in front of a painting if the artist has put their honesty into it.  The hard part may be telling the truth as it has been revealed to us, without mimicking the voice (or the recipes, or the brush strokes) of an admired one just a little (or a lot) more educated than we are.

I'm grateful for writers like Dostoyevsky and Rilke, Stringfellow and Kierkegaard. They challenge my mind and make my blood richer. But where would we be without Charles Schultz, Erma Bombeck and A.A. Milne?

We're all getting the velvet rubbed off, and the stuffing knocked out of us. Hopefully it's making us realer and realer all the time, and not just cranky, limp copycats.

My daughter, Sally Nava, helped me with the music for this poem years ago. It was part of youth play at church. I really like the flute part. Thanks, Sally.

No comments:

Post a Comment