Friday, February 2, 2007

letters, expectations and choices

Some I forgot why I have a blog. Sure, I like sharing my life with people based on a belief that we can learn from each other. Somebody doesn't have to be your best friend to teach you a lesson or make you think more clearly about something. But the real reason I started this in 2001 was for myself. A friend had prompted me -- maybe so he wasn't alone in the blogging world, maybe because he know how perfect this strange form of communication was for my personality.

While sitting in court the other day waiting for jury selection to conclude and the murder trial to really get underway (more coming on that), I read this:

… writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer and the self stronger. How is it, at a time when clarity and strength go begging, that we have moved so far from everyday prose? Social critics might trace this back to the demise of letter writing. The details of housekeeping and child rearing, the rigors of war and work, advice to friends and family: none was slated for publication. They were communications that gave shape to life by describing it for others. … Words on paper confer a kind of immorality. Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind? … That's also what writing is: not just a legacy, but therapy. As the novelist Don Delillo once said, "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. …" --Anna Quindlen in her Newsweek column published Jan. 22, 2007

Yes, it's healing. And I agree that letter-writing is most definitely a lost art. At different times in my childhood I had different pen pals. I still clearly remember the joy of getting a letter from one of these people in the mail. Some of the relationships were solely based on the ideas of pen pals while others were built from other events and thrived because of the letters we exchanged.

Times change. Sometimes I wish for these old bonds to surface, but most of the time I recognize that life is a journey with all sorts of people and places along the way. And sometimes the best parts are when we are completely caught off guard with the beauties and joys of living.

We all think we are going to be great, and we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren't met. But sometimes our expectations sell us short. Sometimes the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected. You've got to wonder why we cling to our expectations because the expected is just what keeps us steady, standing, still. The expected's just the beginning. The unexpected is what changes our lives. --Meredith Grey at the conclusion of "Great Expectations" on Jan. 25, 2007

Sometimes life takes unfortunate turns. I covered something yesterday that hit me harder than I expected it to, something that I probably categorize among the most emotionally intense moments I've witnessed as an outsider. A 21-year-old Murray State student was convicted of murder for striking a 62-year-old graduate student in the early morning of Nov. 11, 2005, while on his way home from a fraternity party. It's the worst-case scenario of a drunken driving accident combined with a hit-and-run accident. Two families (and probably lots of other people connected to them) have suffered. One family lost a woman they loved for no real reason while another family learned yesterday this guy with his life ahead of him will spent at least 17 years in jail before he's eligible for parole. It's all very disheartening and reaffirms why drinking excessively is really just a very silly, irresponsible choice.

That's the summary of what came out of the four days I sat in this courtroom, listening and taking notes and eventually writing. Life is expected, certainly, but we do have a choice to make decisions that aim toward greatness. Things do happen that are completely out of our control. That's when I turn to this healing therapy of mine, and maybe yours. But that's different than creating a risky situation that probably could have been prevented.

1 comment:

  1. … writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer and the self stronger. i am not a very good writer but it still helps.

    i hope that some good will come from the trial. maybe a fellow college student of his will think twice before drinking and driving.