"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Highest Form Of Art (and goodbye to the G-Man)

                       "If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything." - Mark Twain

I recently found an old journal from a creative writing class in college in which I jotted down everything that teacher said. She told us that the highest form of art is literature and all art is about loss. I didn't understand that at the time, but I wrote it down, sitting on the edge of my seat and taking it all in. It seemed deep, like the Albert Camus novel,The Plague, which my sister gave me to read when I was only thirteen. She had high hopes for me, and I knew I was supposed to like it, but I didn't understand it.

When my brother's house burned to the ground, I wrote a poem. When we found out a family member had cancer, I wrote a poem. When my mother broke her leg and my father couldn't get out of his chair, I wrote a poem. Driving home from the hospital and forgetting the order of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wrote a poem.

I just found out this morning that Galen Hayes, known in the blog world as Mr. Knowitall, the host of the Friday Flash 55 I participated in for several years, has died.  In one of his last posts he wrote, "Thanksgiving is not about Black Friday sales, or kicking off the Christmas shopping frenzy, it's about family, friends, and the joy of living." I did not know Galen personally, yet felt I did. I sat here and cried for this man I never knew but who touched my life and encouraged me to write my best. I would write an eulogy in 55 words but it seems this would cheapen the loss his family must now live with.

I feel guilty, relying upon tragic events for inspiration, taking advantage of misfortune to compose a sonnet, using the pain of others as fodder for my writer's ambition, my selfish dream of one day being remembered.  Must we experience tragedy and hardship to write anything worth writing? Can a youth unbowed by life write anything that will last beyond their years?

And what about memoir? After writing one, will your family still talk to you? Will they smile when they see you, or will a cloud of hostility color your gatherings, making you an outlier at the table? As a writer, if we aren't telling the truth, is there any point in writing at all? In the back of this old bedraggled journal I'd scribbled, "Write the truth as you know it."  With memory such a fickle creature, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Then there is also what Emily Dickinson so wisely said, "Tell the truth, but tell it slant."  I like that.  Goodbye Galen.  I will miss you.


12 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

How sad! Sending my thoughts to his family and to you on the loss of your friend. Although there are many online people we'll never meet, they still become so important to us. Sounds like Galen will be sorely missed by many. *hugs*

Mama Zen said...

I've always loved that Dickinson quote.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm so sorry about Galen.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Jemi,
Thank you. I sometimes feel closer to my online friends than the people I actually know.

Mama,
Me too! I see I've scribbled it here and there throughout all my old journals. Looking for memoir fodder! Thanks for commenting.

Diane,
Thank you.

Anthony Duce said...

Beyond the sadness and loss. I wish I had found his blog earlier.
I have wondered often about how tragedy and loss somehow inspiring the best in most forms of art, especially in literature. I agree, though now want to compensate, which I’m sure won’t last. I have too much “art” waiting to be worked on☺
Liked this post a lot… Thank you

kaykuala said...

So touching and so noble. High level of sincerity and frankness are ones that touch the heart more. You are able to draw back and relate old times to present day happenings most eloquently Yvonne! Great prose, very thoughtful!

Hank

Yvonne Osborne said...

Tony,
I bet you have a lot of art to work on, unfinished pieces or just ideas swirling around in your head. I'm glad you liked this. Thanks.

Kay,
Thank you so much. It means a lot to connect with like-minded people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Wendy said...

Sometimes, people that we meet on the internet can touch our hearts in ways that our real friends cannot.

I did not know Galen, but I am sad to hear of his death also.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Wendy,
You are so right. Thanks.

Yvonne Osborne said...

And Hank,
Thanks again for your comment. I didn't mean to call you Kay!

manicddaily said...

A lovely tribute. Thanks. k.

Yvonne Osborne said...

K.,
Thank you so much. It means a lot, coming from an old 55er.

I miss him!