Life, Death, and Stories: a Blog of Survivor’s Guilt

This week’s post almost didn’t get written. After reading the title, you might think that, for whatever reasons, I was in too much danger this week to sit down and write a thousand-ish words about art, writing, the latest concert I went to, or another aspect of a freelance writer’s life. That is not the case. In fact, I’m safe and sound, sitting in one of the more comfortable corners of Europe, while back in my home country, 30 people died in one day and three times that number were wounded, when a peaceful city came under rocket fire. (Je Suis Mairupol, anyone? Je Suis Volnovakha? Or, for a closer-to-home situation, Je Suis MH17? Anyway. You’re free to je-suis whatever it is that upsets you, or nothing at all. I won’t tell you off. This is not a political blog.)

This week’s post was going to be about things we own, owning too much things, precious possessions, and the like. I couldn’t write it. I couldn’t write a post listing various people’s answers to the question “Which possessions would you take out of a burning house?” on the day when dozens of people didn’t get a chance to take THEMSELVES out of burning houses.

The truth is, I couldn’t write anything at all. I had no motivation to create, because my world (which consists of parts of The World that I’m aware of and care about) became a darker place than before (for the Nth time recently), and it was disheartening to think that the best I could contribute to the world (either of the two) was a silly little blog post about how we first-world humans like material possessions too much for our own good. Because writing that silly blog post, as if nothing happened, would mean pretending that everything was fine, that I was fine… Writing that post this week would mean lying. And there’s no room for lies in art. Except the ones we use to tell the truth.


Then I was stuck. Writing about things that were bothering me would turn 100% of my art into a tantrum worthy of a five-year-old demanding to “make this not be happening”. Writing about anything else would mean lying, pretending that there, in fact, wasn’t a corner of my head forever occupied by a crying five-year-old demanding that bad things go away, pretending that there wasn’t a number of things wrong with my world that I could do nothing or next-to-nothing about.

Or would it?

Perhaps, in absence of this post, it would. Going on as usual, keeping the real world entirely separate from my art, putting up a cheerful front of an optimistic writer who lives in a bubble… God, would I love to be that person. But I’m not.

What does that mean for this blog, then? Is it going to become my vehicle for venting political frustration, or my personal chronicle of the war in my home country, or simply a place to grieve?

No. The Coffee Clef, and its Cried But Did The Thing Anyway series will continue as before. I will keep talking about art, writing, different aspects of a freelancer’s life, and, hell, maybe even the latest concert I went to. LIFE. That’s what I’m going to keep talking about. LIFE. Not in denial of the horrors of the world, but in a persistent refusal to believe that the horrors are all there is to it.

Living. Despite death. In the face of death. If you don't live, life means nothing. (by Tenny Boo)

Living. Despite death. In the face of death. If you don’t live, life means nothing.(by Tenny Boo)

If there’s one more thing I’d like to say this week, it’s this. As someone who had spent a large portion of her life pressured and self-pressured to be “successful”, I found a lot of inner peace in the saying that usually gets mis-attributed to the Dalai Lama, but was originally written by David W. Orr in his book Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World. Usually, only the first two sentences get quoted, but the full paragraph reads:

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
(To be fair, I think the Dalai Lama would be entirely on board with these ideas, too.)


What makes me happy about this saying is that storytellers are included among the groups of people who have the potential to make our planet better. Maybe V got it right about using lies to tell the truth.

Thus, this blog will continue. Every week, or more often if I manage, I’ll be popping up in your news feed/dashboard/inbox, telling my stories, or chatting about different ways to tell stories, or, every now and again, sharing my thoughts on what each of us can do to try and be the best story we can be. I’ll be seeing you guys…





Filed under Art and Music, Blogness, Cried But Did The Thing Anyway

2 responses to “Life, Death, and Stories: a Blog of Survivor’s Guilt

  1. Pingback: Cried But Did The Thing Anyway – Writing Descriptions, Part 2A – People, Specifically Narrators | The Coffee Clef

  2. Pingback: Cried But Did The Thing Anyway – Writing Descriptions, Part 2B – People (Non-Narrators) | The Coffee Clef

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s