Monday, April 1, 2013

Hanging on

I think a lot. One of my earliest memories was of the woman who looked after the neighbor kids, an old (to my 4 year old self) African American woman. She would sit in her chair and close her eyes. I'd ask what's wrong, and she'd say, "I'm just thinking." She was the first example I had that it was alright to just sit in a chair and think. She would also tell me that some days she just had the blues. I'd never thought that blues were something someone could have. 

One might say that this woman, obscure in memory - my parents wouldn't have known her since she worked at the neighbor's, and I never knew her name - has had a great influence on my life. I find myself, even as I type this, thinking, my heart filled with the blues. My blues are not the same as hers, of course. I think that everyone's blues are their own. When people try to understand or belittle -" my god, they're even trying to take my blues away from me", is all I can think. 

I treasure this gift of thinking - just closing my eyes and thinking. Later in kindergarten, the teachers cajoled us to put our thinking caps on. But I didn't need to - I was already thinking. And the blues, sure they're a burden and cause a certain quiet and a certain reluctance. I find though that they've given my life a contour, a refrain, that brings a kind of reassurance. I think it's been asked before: Why do the blues make us happy? But the answer is unimportant. As Blanchot wrote, the answer itself is the question's adversity.Questions only need to be asked. It need not be a two part code, a q and a; instead,  only Qs - all the way. 

Why do we feel compelled to answer questions? Speaking with Job, God asks a series of questions: How deep is the ocean, how high is the sky  type questions - questions we actually know the answers to. I've jokingly pictured Job answering much to Yahweh's consternation. We do know the answers to these rhetorical questions now. The crazy thing about Job is that God doesn't answer Job's question. God answers the question God asks. God tells Job's friends that Job was right - but God doesn't answer Job's question of causality: Why did you do this? Why did my children die? Why did I have to suffer the stupid consolation of my friends (and what could be worse than when our friends console us stupidly? Their silence was better)? 

Leave the question of the blues. The blues need not justify themselves. And let me think in my chair - as I would let you. 

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