Dear Winn – 2 February 2016

Dear Winn:
Well, the girls have got their second snow day in a row. The school district actually called it last night, which surprised us all. But there was some sort of glitch yesterday morning in the text-notification system and evidently a number of parents didn’t know school was cancelled. I’m sure those parents voiced their displeasure. I’d of been miffed too, probably. The outfit I work for called a late start today – 11am. But we’ll see about that as the white stuff’s coming down like a mutha. 
 
You wrote this in regard to getting older: “It makes me want to speak things that are true and not dink around with goofiness.” That’s quite the line, my friend. I’m feeling that too. Although I confess there are days I am the goof in goofiness, which is likely what St. Paul was talking about in Romans 7, although (more confession here) the man does get thick on some pages, doesn’t he? Do you think St. Paul ever saw snow fall? Shame if he didn’t. Maybe that was his thorn, poor guy just wanted to see it snow, just once. And while maybe he did learn to be content in all things (I guess he was telling the truth when he said that), there was still this boyish ember of a dream inside him to taste snowflakes on his tongue, just once. 
 
But yes, here’s to the things that are true, which is an interesting stance in an age when every man, and every woman, does what is right in their own eyeballs. Its comical to me that on Groundhog Day, when at least some of the population is still fixated on a rodent’s shadow, that most of us are quite oblivious to our own, shadows that is. I believe it was in the writings of Robert Bly where I first came across the concept of shadow – those long repressed aspects of our personality that, after we pass a certain age, start to show themselves. Bly’s encouragement is to be-friend your shadow, and one way to do that is by using careful, physical language. I think about that when I see one of those bucolic scenes with a quote superimposed on it, something that sounds oh so spiritual but I usually find myself thinking But what in the world does that mean? Yep, a lotta un-friended shadow running ruinous in our nation that is no longer one.
 
You’re good about using careful, physical language. I appreciate that about you. Another poetic Robert, Lowell, wrote to “pray for the grace of accuracy.” Maybe that’s a good prayer for us both as we age. Maybe that’s a good prayer for us all.
 
I’m really enjoying Richard Hugo. When I said he’s helping me a little, I meant in a structural sense, not so much philosophical. I’ll share that piece when I see you in March. As far as the living goes, Richard (Dick) had a rough childhood, he drank a ton in his young man days, screwed around even more, had a bona fide meltdown while lecturing at the Iowa Workshop, and some other experiences of sorta sliding off the rails. William Matthews said “Dick was always homing” – always looking for home. It appears he found some form of that in later years, settling down with a wife named Ripley in his beloved Montana. Maybe he finally made a truce with his shadow. I don’t know, I need to keep reading. But I hope that.
 
I so loved what you wrote about your mom, about her making you sandwiches for lunch like she did when you were just a boy. That’s such a sweet story. I like things that are sweet – sweet tea, sweet cornbread (basically cake), and sweet stories about mothers who dearly love their sons and hope they don’t drink a ton or screw around or have meltdowns or slide off the rails, but they know we sometimes do. And yet still they love us. I know you must miss her, Winn. We’re all always homing, aren’t we?
 
Coraggio.
John         

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7 Comments

  1. avamw on February 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I did a quick email check, hoping for something personal and good. This letter from and to strangers to me, nevertheless, hit home very personally to me. Thanks.

  2. Jacky on February 3, 2016 at 5:23 am

    I think there is music out there, John, that you are tuning into and finding expression for, that we, the readers, can hear as well and possibly even discover harmony. Thank you for listening.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 3, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Wow, thank you, Jacky. May I ask how you came across my blog? I’m always curious.

  3. Carol Durkee on February 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    How very brave and special to share such deep thoughts with strangers. How fortunate we are to have our own deep friendships of this level. Thank you!

    • thebeautifuldue on February 3, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Thank you, Carol. Yes, those kinds of friends are treasures.

  4. nellskac on February 3, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Is leaving a thousand heart emoticons considered an appropriate comment?

    • thebeautifuldue on February 3, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      More than appropriate, Nell. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Much appreciated.

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