As for things that happen off the mat, well, they happen. Many of these involve beautiful encounters and wonderful conversations with people in my immediate environment, but I can't seem to blog about these without somehow taking away from the immediacy of the beauty of the encounters. So I don't blog.
Somehow, there just seems less of a need than before to reinterpret and reinvent reality through the lenses of an electronic medium. I think this says something about my present life and reality as opposed to my former life and reality. But I'm not exactly sure what just yet.
But I did listen to an interview on NPR on the way to work this morning that is worth bringing up here. On Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed writer Emily Rapp, who recently lost her son just before his third birthday. In January 2011, Rapp's nine-month old son Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease. Children with this disease "lack an enzyme responsible for breaking down specific chemicals in the nerve cells of the brain. When these chemicals aren't removed, they build up, and the child loses his or her ability to function. Seizures and loss of sight and movement are all symptoms of the child's body shutting down." There is presently no cure for the disease; Tay-Sachs is always fatal. Children diagnosed with it experience a progressive shutting down of the body, and most of them die by the age of three.
Rapp recently wrote a memoir of her experience of living with and caring for her dying son; the memoir, incidentally, started out initially as a series of blog posts which she wrote "in a sort of fugue of grief and hysteria, essentially. I did it because it gave me something to do and I desperately needed that..."
Here's something she said in her interview with Terry that really struck a chord with me:
"I had this period when I would go out in Santa Fe ... and people would say to me in the grocery store, like, 'You must feel cursed,' and I would just be like a) 'That's not helpful,' and b) 'So are you if you think about the fact that you're a human being and you never know when chaos will find you.' So it made me just realize how deeply phobic we are of this idea that chaos is really a reality in this world. It is the thing that can touch and will touch us sometime in our life, and that doesn't mean that we're bad people or we deserve bad luck or that we're even unlucky. It just means that that's what happened... I think having that kind of a diagnosis, which really feels straight out of the biblical Job — I mean, it really does — it's like you feel cursed, and what Job does in the Bible is wander around asking everyone why this is happening because he doesn't understand, and I think that's a little bit how I felt. People come around Job and they sit with him for a while and then they try to explain it, and that's when it all kind of goes horribly wrong, because what they should just do is sit and witness and say, 'We don't know. We don't understand. It doesn't make any sense. This is chaotic and crazy and I can't believe it's happened.'"
This is powerful stuff. On a very very different note, this may be somehow related to my inability/unwillingness to blog lately. Although what is happening in my life is a totally different thing and certainly definitely cannot compare in intensity to what Rapp has gone through, I can't help feeling that the encounters I have been having with people are also powerful in their own subtle ways. And it is difficult to try to explain the power of such encounters in writing without taking away from their power. The only thing to do is to feel, witness, and accept, and be grateful that everything that has happened has happened. Because it is the only way it can happen, and because it will never happen again.
But speaking of encounters, there is one interesting encounter that is coming up for me this weekend. I will be seeing Kino again after a long time. I will be making the long journey (eleven hours' drive from Salt Lake City) to her workshop this weekend in LA. Perhaps seeing and studying with and interviewing Kino will get me out of this relative electronic-media silence. We'll see.