Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Thorny Undertaking



"It is a thorny undertaking, and more so than it seems, to follow a movement so wandering as that of our mind, to penetrate the opaque depths of the innermost folds, to pick out and immobilize the innumerable flutterings that agitate it."

I read this Montaigne quote sitting in a pub at the airport yesterday waiting for my flight home from Philadelphia. I had traveled to the City of Brotherly Love because my mother was dying and indeed did die with me at her side.

Where to begin with the jumble of thoughts, images, and feelings all vying for air time. Finally I had time to sit and reflect. But where to start amidst the flutterings? I knew it didn't matter where I began--I just had to begin. Something my father said burst into my kaleidoscopic mind and lingered long enough for me to tackle it.

When my sister told him that her Episcopal priest was coming to deliver (or is it offer?) last rites and pleaded with him to be civli (my dad is a Quaker with little tolerance for religious traditions) he said:

"Hell no. I'm gonna punch the guy in the nose."

Aha. Go from there, I told myself. And I did. Sometimes a line of dialogue offers an excellent springboard into writing.

1 comment:

Susan Carver Williams said...

Carol, I just went to your blog for the first time in a long time. Not even sure why. And I discovered that you lost your mother yesterday. I can't say why exactly, but I expect I'll be writing similar words this year about my 90-year-old mother. It is a hard time in life to be a daughter, isn't it? You have my deepest sympathy.