Saturday, August 29, 2009

Joyful Surrender

The bookends were magnificent. Joe Kennedy for Senate. Caroline was sublime in her celebration. John Culver's mastery of the story, Orrin Hatch's nervous love, Duval Patrick's eloquent manner, Joe Biden's admiration and need of love from such a man that knows loss, and the emotional John McCain.

The boys and the youngest generation were so much more powerful than the moving eulogy by President Obama. What would he have said if he wasn't cloaked in the formality of his position? The homily by the (I can't remember the Father's name.) Priest was magnificent. Most moving to me was the responsorial, Psalm 72, by Kara.

As the evening closed, Teddy's letter to Pope Benedictine was, again, sublime, oh to be able to command such potency. And his dictated response of "joyful surrender." His grandchildren wept at his casket in the light from the cars in the procession.

I went to Ted Kennedy's wake. I walked from the Expo to the Library. These places I've been to many, many times, except this time I was hoping they would move me differently. My mind was blank as I walked by the fields I played soccer and underneath the buildings in which I took classes. Without intention, I waited for the wake to begin with a woman I go to church with but don't know well. We discussed each other and what Ted meant to us. The morning wasn't unusual or usual for that matter.

As we waited in line, people walked by, small discussions were overheard, cameras both still and motion, but I couldn't muster a sense of death. The moment wasn't big, even as it was a big moment. I wanted more, however, even as I and many others that morning met Ted's daughter Kara and her children Max and Grace, it didn't register. I met Jesse Jackson and surely he would elicit something, but he didn't.

I continued on to the office, reflecting on how nice it was to spend time with someone I wouldn't except to sit next to in church on occasion. I learned good things and nice things about her as she did about me. We walked by the casket and all I could think was the Honor Guard is so stoic. Teddy was stoic, but didn't carry himself in such ways. Teddy brought his ideals to America and Massachusetts, and it is in that way that he is different. The Senator sought to make your life better too, not just mine.

As an individual, Teddy and I don't see the same glass of water. Although I have voted for him more than once, its because his efforts further causes that mean something to me: education and mental illness. I will find the quote from Caroline on Friday, but its the future and while Teddy isn't there to attain that future he fought so hard for, it is within our grasp. Keep up the good fight. Give to those who are struggling and are fighting to make it.

Both sides, liberal and conservative, republican and democrat, gay and straight, black and white, are looking for the same sustaining ideals set before us even as they don't take the same road. The efficacy of Teddy is the ability to find compromise without sacrificing his principles.

I want to finish strong, but I spent three days with Teddy, his family, and, in particular, my wife discussing stuff that means something. I am spent, a selfish statement in the wake of the vigil an Irish family gives their dead. I have prayed, cried, laughed, joked, and reflected upon a wide range of topics. I look forward to the quiet reflection in the coming days. I gave myself to this moment and I hope I take something from it.

Friday, August 21, 2009


“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is sublime. It requires little imagination to fill in the blanks and offers lessons in forgiveness. Perhaps the hardest element to imagine is what leads to Max’s mother to send him to his room. Max did state he would eat her up, but a child in a wolf suit is play acting. However, she loves Max and fixes his dinner for him in his room. Now there is a movie and book of the same title coming out (and Maurice Sendak is on board).

Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers wrote the screenplay and Dave Eggers is writing the book. A new version of something great is always tricky. Do you stay within the framework of the original or blow it up or some combination? Jonze directs music videos and directed the Oscar winning movie “Adaptation.” Beyond that his writing credits amount to the TV show/movie “Jackass” which I liked. I’ll see the movie before I give Jonze a hard time.

I don’t like Dave Eggers. He left it all on the table when he wrote “A Staggering Work….” I read the book with enthusiasm. I devoured it, but at three-quarters I realized there was never going to be an ending suitable to my tastes, and it starts over again in subsequent works. Eggers is a cynic that was dealt a pretty tough blow early in life. His parents died of cancer within months of one another. He raised a younger brother with out too much help from two other siblings. I empathize with him, but his inability to move on is what leaves me sour. The New Yorker’s posted some commentary by Eggers about the new book, movie and other stuff, as well as a portion of the new book. Eggers assumes that because his life is a trial, so must Max’s.

Eggers has created a contrived website and/or product(s) that have provided me with positive stimulation, but I find it too convoluted to get through. However, he’s done something awesome by creating the 826 Writing and Tutoring Centers. So while I no longer enjoy what he’s got to say in most forms, I do commend him for doing a great service to provide a creative outlet to those that may not have the chance/opportunity to explore this side of themselves. The program is well conceived, and he does have clout/money. Enough background/justification.

Max’s mother has a name!?!? He has a stepfather!?!? Max has an older sister!?!? The Wild Things have names, too, and personal issues that a group hug and therapy will help in everyone’s recovery. If Eggers is writing, and he is, then this is what I have to expect. His piling on ruins my simple exploration into a child’s imagination and understanding that he can trust his mother and be reassured of her love and forgiveness through the gesture of a meal and it was still warm. Max forgives her as well, because I assume he eats the meal based upon the inflection of and it was still warm.

The story Sendak wrote does lend itself to exploration/expansion. It’s compressed. The Wild Things may represent me as a parent. Previously mentioned, it doesn’t explain why Max is really sent to his room. It doesn’t explain in any specific manner what happens as Max sails to and from Where through night and day, in and out of weeks, and almost over a year. It doesn’t give any back story to the Wild Things. "Where the Wild Things Are" is a story as simple as the words on the page or a spiraling journey into new worlds to understand and manage consequence, love and forgiveness.

The effort to make it a coping device for Eggers saddens me. I can relate to Sendak’s version, it is bare and forthright. Its brilliance is in its broad, but complete storyline. There are discussions to have and imaginings to create. I don’t suffer the same life Eggers suffers. As it boils down, I would write it differently or would prefer another author. I would prefer a freshness that Eggers is not capable of providing me, perhaps by Cormac McCarthy. “The Road,” while dark, was a progressive, positive journey to lightness.