Friday, October 30, 2009

Escaping In

I've been reading this last week like it is going out of style. Natalie says to us, when we are meditating, "Meditate like this is your last minute on earth," during the last minute of the meditation session. Katagiri used to say it to them, now she says it to us.

I've been reading like each book is the last book I will ever read - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. Good books, no doubt, excellent books, in fact. Not bad ones to be the "last" books I ever read, heaven forbid. But I haven't been reading them like that, voraciously, only because they are good. This morning, waking, wanting to rip through another, I had to admit to myself that I am also reading out of escape.

I'll never forget reading in some Adult Children of Alcoholics or Adult Survivors of Abuse book that "these children" (meaning I am one of them) tend to read to escape. In the last year I have learned more than I did in college about reading to learn - about structure, style, to really appreciate where the author was coming from and, as Natalie says, "To get inside his/her mind." This has lead to a very different kind of reading, more attentive, less escapist. I've also read more memoir in the last year than ever before, and those can feel harder to "escape" in some ways, for me, at least.

I am clearly escaping into others stories, and I am not here to say this is bad. Last week in Taos was tough - I told some of my students that I hemorraged writing (one newer student worried that I was talking about it so "negatively" but I don't see it that way) - scenes from my sexual life from ages 12-28 poured out of me at all times of the day and night. Just writing this now, I realize it makes sense that I might want a break, and I am not so sure that "escaping" breaks into books right now is a bad thing. Living Lucy Grealy's face through Ann Patchett, following, like a detective, the beach honeymoon of McEwan's doomed newlyweds, these are not escapes into their problems (versus mine) but deep divinings into how these authors, whether in the form of memoir or fiction, depict these difficulties and joys.

So there, writing about it, I remember that we can escape into things, not just out of things. I am still in my life, still thinking about all that arose last week. I am done writing about it for now, have written many other things this week. All this reading is not a "problem," I see, if it ever was for me. I am just as present, just as joyful, just as compassionate, for the fictional or memoir rendered people, and still present for the real persons in my life. I'm doing alright.

Thanks for letting me check in on your web time, world.


  1. First, CONGRATULATIONS on your acceptance of your second chapbook. That's fantastic and I can't wait to get it!

    Secondly, thank you for writing about your "hemorraging." I need to do some "writing practice" too....if I ever can carve out time between work and taking care of the kids.

    I read "Truth and Beauty" as well and I loved it. I do believe it is the first book I've cried to in my life.

    Thank you for your beautiful writing.

    Lisa Marie

  2. Thanks, Lisa Marie. I just finished Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy - wow. Read it if you haven't.