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the letter reader

It is the third time I sit down to record The Letter Reader. The laundry rack has been pushed back, the lights dimmed. There is a flat grey sky outside the windows. The song has changed key three times. I even tried it a capella, the guitar just resting on my knee. The words felt hollow and empty when I heard them playing back. Unlistenable. The struggle is a familiar one - between the glowing idea of something butting up against the reality is presents as it enters the world. We are all famous in our own minds - heroes, geniuses, rock stars and saints. In the real world, we are flabby, and fallible. We are painfully human, and no angels. How to align all of this? How to put yourself in front of a microphone, or an empty piece of paper, an open road, a classroom full of children, an office?

Maybe there are glimpses of greatness. Maybe there are little cracks of something magical, if you wait for them, if you nurture them, if you struggle for them. I often find myself yelling at tv sc…

not all seeds grow (please tell me, some precious things)


There was a seed planted six months ago, for today's post. I cannot say more than the fact that it never happened. Not all seeds grow. It was painful, as deep a wound as any. But then I took a walk with N and V and E. I pushed my children on swings. I ate something. I answered questions, and felt useful, needed. No hurt can linger in a house crammed so full with love.

The weekend was lost in catching up on sleep, on staring at trees bending hard in a cold, wet wind. It whistled and howled at the edges of the windows, and I wrapped myself tight in warm blankets. V took a liking to one of my hats, and paraded up and down the hallway with it cocked far back on her little head, or dangling from one hand as she dragged it across the floor. After everyone went to sleep I pulled the guitar to my knee, and found something there as I often do in tough moments. 

                    Don't know if I'm good or bad, 
                    just what you tell me.
                    She had a gift for taking things away
                    so please tell me, some precious things.
                    Like when I was a boy,
                    when I was the new kid.

I walk home with E on Sunday. It is raining and the sun is shining all at the same time, a classic stroke of irony that causes no one here to bat an eye. The news comes in, another shooting back home. The numbers grow, as the details filter in. 

We are sitting at the dinner table, a full seven hours later than Florida and New York. The story unfolds, as sad and pointless as ever. 

All pain is pain. All suffering is suffering.

How to sift through all of this? A child drops an ice cream cone and cries out. They know nothing of the news, of deaths far away, just immediate loss, and a question “why?’ or “why me?” or “why me, today?” 

There is no answer. 



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