Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Digging in the Dirt

If you live long enough, you'll come face to face with some genuine horrors. Death of loved ones, long illnesses, dishonesty and betrayal, heartache (and not the pleasant kind--because yes, I now believe ache can be pleasant)...

If you live long enough, you'll earn a few scars.

I was digging up Mom's peonies at her old house this past weekend when our neighbor sidled to me and said, "If you find any bones, we're not going to call the police."

What?

She laughed. Bones. Memories. Scars we've tried to bury in our own dirt. Painful experiences we've tried to shove down so deep and cover so completely we think--just maybe--no one will ever see them again. We don't have to show our weak moments. We can pretend those hurtful things never happened. We can live life free of the weight of history. No one has to see our scars if we cover them with enough hearty black soil.

But it never works, does it? You spend your life shoveling and shoveling and hoping it will be enough to hide the scars and the bones and memories, but your shoulders stiffen and your hands callous and crack and bleed... And the bones still come to the surface.

All of that energy wasted... for what?

The boys' principal said something wise this morning--kids are much better than adults at being open and honest about their thoughts and feelings if we give them a chance. Adults spend so much energy trying to suppress their feelings. Trying.

So much energy wasted... for what?

If the best of my short stories were about anything, they were about living in the face of pain and disappointment and horror. I've always felt hopeful about them, despite how hideous my progeny might look to a reader. I've always thought they were little stories of hope.

I'm living out loud the best I can. I'll save my energy for love and hope and gratitude. It is a conscious choice--a choice I can make as well as anyone. I'll dig up the peonies, but won't worry about the bones I find. They aren't mine, and I never buried them there.




5 comments:

Barry Napier said...

Greta post, highlighted by what is easily one of Mr. Gabriel's best (guilty admission: I'm a sucker for "Red Rain" and "Sledgehammer").

Aaron Polson said...

I kind of like "Solsbury Hill" too. But "Digging in the Dirt" speaks volumes about being a real person.

Tyhitia Green said...

Very insightful, Aaron. Thanks for sharing. :)

Daniel W. Powell said...

Hey Aaron,

There's definitely hope in your fiction. Dark center, to be sure, but spiced with optimism and a sense of moving toward something.

Hope you're writing some more...

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