Monday, March 17, 2008

Melancholy

Melancholy. It's an interesting word. The last four letters spell holy and at the risk of sounding sacrilegious that's almost how I feel right now. Reverent.

During Holy Week I'm attending two memorial services. It's made me reflective about how we live our lives. Most of us go about our business, make homes for our families, provide for them, share experiences with good friends and move on with little awareness of how much we touch each other.

A man came into the store the other day and told me that I never fail to brighten his day. You'd think I would have been less surprised given that I'd just written about the importance of a positive outlook over at the CB Bar and Grill. He's been depressed for some time. I had no idea. He comes in. We talk about animals, great books and tell each other a few jokes. Then we go our separate ways, both carrying that good humour through the rest our day.

Some times the way people touch us is more subtle. Write off the Deep End is a writing group that formed when Brian Henry wrote my phone number on the blackboard at a writing course he was teaching. I was the only volunteer to host a group. Kate and I have looked back plenty over the years in amazement that we so naively gathered other writers (including each other) towards us that day.

I'm not sure of the evolution from there. We met more people at other writing courses and our information was circulated in the Niagara region. Tom Torrance taught romance, poetry and writing for children(all separately, of course) at Niagara College during that time. While I never took any of his classes other members of WODE did. As we tended to pool our resources, I heard "In Tom's class, we..." a lot. He was a great influence on all of us. Brenda Harlen credits him with a good portion of her success with Harlequin.

I didn't know him well. He was my parent's neighbour for several years. He frequented the library where I work. He came to book signings. He always smiled, said a few words in his soft voice and let the action flow around him.

He was a quiet man. A gentle man. The kind of person your glance bounces off in its quest for stimulation. But his words carried weight and his message had power. I look at all the people whose lives he touched, all the writers to whom he gave confidence in their abilities and I am awed.

In one of those serendipitous moments I love, I just finished reading a book this morning. I almost turned away from it in the beginning because the prose was literary, slow moving and lyrical with it's gentle images. Yet the more I read, the more I enjoyed the slower journey full of profound observations that I would have lost in a faster paced book. The end left me pensive and pondering the final paragraph. The main character says the need we have to put words on a page is the way in which we grasp hold of meaning in every day tasks. She suggests it is a way to hold onto our memories.

It may be my interpretation but I think writing is the way so many of us find meaning in our interactions, our communications, in our lives. As writers we are allowed, even encouraged, to ponder all the connections we make in daily tasks and assign meaning to each. As writers we record all that happens around us. We make sense out of chaos, and order.

Sometimes we merely observe. Sometimes we extrapolate from those observations. Through our writing we share bits of ourselves. Bits that have an effect on someone else, bits that alter their reality or thinking, bits that float across miles to land in another's conscious when they most need to see another perspective.

Few of us know how long-lasting or far-reaching our interactions have on our family, friends, co-workers, strangers, students and teachers. Memorials are an opportunity to share that person's significance in our lives with those who love them. The two people whose memorials I attend this week were fortunate enough to know, through words and actions, the myriad of ways in which they had touched the lives of others.

Sometimes melancholy can lead to bright memories. Thank you all for reading, and inspiring me to reach for meaning in the mundane and the magical.

3 comments:

  1. This is a thoughtful post that I am sure I will seek from time to time.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, dear friend. May you find strength and joy in the memories.

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  2. Very beautiful. Just like you.
    (((( ))))

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  3. Lovely. You don't know how your sweetness sustains us all.

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