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Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 27 became familial. But when the condition was mine directly, landed in my body, there was nothing vague. The day I heard, a Wednesday, it was like taking LSD; real- ity opened up, but this time nobody could come along on my trip. And yet, it’s hard to stay in relation to death. An equal urge arises in me to race to the bank, to the grocery—before it closes. Daily life is so seductive: we believe if we keep moving we finally can catch up, get our bills paid for all time. We also believe our stories. Everyone does. But where would we be without them? They embrace the full contradic- tions of our lives. I remember when I was up in Minne- sota. I had to drive through Cloquet, the hometown of the teacher I’d moved back to study with, on my way to Hibbing, where Bob Dylan was raised. We were making a documentary on the influences of the Iron Range on Dylan’s songs. I asked the film crew to stop outside the teacher’s childhood home—the deep front lawn, the gray clapboard house in the distance. I remembered the teacher telling me about his sister who became vice president of one of the large airlines and all at once couldn’t take the pressure, the success. She moved back to this remote hometown. I thought about how deep the tracks of lin- eage and pattern and family run. Death is only half the story. The other half is life, how to navigate in these slip- pery waters, how to keep the humbling knowledge of our end in sight. How we all seem to blow it one way or another, but how important it is to admit our mistakes, not turn our back on anything. It’s in the details of what we have done that we can find our liberation. Yet how easily we forget and move away from the heat and honesty of our moments. We need our stories to remind us and to mirror our reality. And we need our writers to record them. Hemingway wrote Death in the After- noon about bullfighting in Spain. He writes in the introduction that he wanted to study death. That every writer needs to know about it. Death is not romantic. It’s the bottom line. ♦