All the new thinking is about loss. In this it resembles all the old thinking. –fr. “Meditation at Lagunitas,” by Robert Hass
The idea has been percolating in my head for some time now that a serious component of most, if not all, literary fiction–and that may also include poetry–is fundamentally underlaid by grief.
If not the search for lost time, then the attempt to regain it, place some animal moment in amber and crystallize it.
I am only speaking for myself here, but I had one of those moments, not too long ago, where a revelation is visited upon you that makes your head snap back. For me, that revelation came in the form of a short story by my kindergarten best friend, Paul Witcover, that is nominally about the summer of his mother’s death, and then later a conversation with a wise lady who gently pointed out to me–when I protested I was not grieving yet, because my father hadn’t yet died (he has now)–that grief tends to surround us. That every path taken represents a lot of paths not taken, and that those paths left to go fallow can be the genesis of griefs large and small. Continue reading