Sunday, January 16, 2011

"no way out but through"

Already over two weeks into the new year, I'm still reviewing the one just gone. A difficult year, though we took possession of the Brighton flat, which continues to give us and others its light and beauty. The difficulties are not easy to name - not because one is coy about the naming but because they do not offer themselves up easily for it. Something my sister and I recently found ourselves in agreement about, and something it has taken this long for us to properly acknowledge (we are both in our fifties) is that we carry an almost imponderable, impenetrable something from being children of holocaust survivors. To say anything more than this is to risk either being unforgiveably glib or having to write a whole book in order to make sense of the predicament.

At my poetry workshop yesterday the workshop leader said, in response to the piece I brought, that my poem made her feel ill. This was not an insult - she was alive to something in it that may be experienced as illness, though a couple of people have also experienced it as beautiful. And she did like the poem. Someone wondered whether it was inspired by Greek mythology. No, she said, this comes from fairytale - and she was right, though it didn't come from any tale one could give a name to. I have always, in a sense, known what it is to be lost in the forest, both powerless and powerful, learning how to read the signs because my life depended on it, or might. Grimms fairy tales I took from the big black book in the living room, but reading them I knew I was already in the territory. No way out but through. Someone put a notice with those words on the inside of the toilet door at the place where we have the poetry workshops, and when you think about it what a perfect place to put such a notice.

Just now, a day at a time is probably the best way forward. And one foot in front of the other, as before, but this time, perhaps, with a little more - what is the word? Attitude.


Zhoen said...

I had no idea of your parents' ordeal. But, yes, no way to adequately explain makes perfect sense. Anything less than a book would seem inadequate, but where would all the words come from?

I've lived by "No way out but through" for decades now, and it's the only attitude that I know to help. No regrets, no nostalgia, live on, face to the future whatever comes along.

I wish you great courage, because that is what it takes.

trousers said...

Another one in which I want to find words, and am not sure I can, but (o) really won't suffice for me.

So what I'll say is, I really appreciate this post. A lot.

Mim said...

Researchers are now saying that the anxiety, torments, etc. of our parents, grandparents--and who knows how far back--become encoded in our cells, so it's not just a question of the home into which we were born.

No way out but through--sure, but some days I'd like to fly over.

Dear Signs!

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, my parents actually got out of Germany in time and were never in the camps, though my mother's father died in Buchenwald. But the story is complicated by the fact that my mother was later interned as an "enemy alien" in the UK.

Re courage - I know you speak from lived experience.

Trousers, I learned the (o) from Zhoen and like the gesture that it represents, of leaving a stone. But your appreciation is appreciated :)

Mim, this is very interesting and, somehow, not altogether surprising. Not just the "sins of our fathers" etc.

Flying over would be my preference, given the choice.

Fire Bird said...

what a lot of quotation marks the comments box gives it - makes me think of someone doing those air inverted commas...
it's like what the Buddhists call 'the wisdom of no escape' - but, yeah, knowing the wisdom of it sure as hell doesn't make it appetising some days...

Cusp said...

Those sort of experiences ripple through the generations like the aftershocks of an earthquake