Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Sabbatical is one of those words I'm never sure I spelled right. That may be because I've never actually taken a sabbatical.

Am reminded of Andy Rooney, legendary commentator for the CBS series, 60 Minutes, who said that writing is one field from which one can never retire. This is true.

Memories of one of my favorite playwrights, Samuel Beckett, struggling with his health, yet doggedly working on and indeed writing while there was even an ounce of breath left in his body come to mind. And, no, that has nothing to do with the fact that Saturday is St. Patrick's Day.

Privacy is almost as important to me as air, but when one enters the public domain as I do here, one can no longer take refuge in privacy, so it is that I share with you that my silence of late is not because I can't think of anything to say about what's going on these days in the political arena, but because I'm struggling with something that is, alas, way beyond politics; life and death.

If my presence here is erratic, please think of this as a sabbatical, a brief hiatus prompted by the wrenching need to keep myself alive.

Indeed, isn't it the wrenching need to stay alive that is behind why we open our eyes in the morning. Are we not all thick with the same struggle, the one that faced Jacob when he wrestled with the angel, the one that faces each of us every day, the decision to choose life over death?

Oh, you say, it's not always our decision, and you're right. Mortality inevitably wins out. That said, I think we have more control over things than we think we have. I can only speak for myself when I say I'm not ready to go to that place where there is total, unstoppable silence.

There can be no denying that life is more fragile than language. Language hangs tough in the face of out of print anthologies, and myths that limp past us like so many strangers. Words are funny creatures. They often come to us in our sleep, yet artfully escape us when we most need them.

Often, we choose when to exit by choosing the hand we play. We will our path, and we pave our will. Nobody forced me to live the life I have. It was my choice, and I accept whatever consequences arise from that choice.

Growing old may be customary, but it is not mandatory. Still, it's the best option on the menu so far. It is sometimes said that one has failed at life. No one has ever accused anyone of failing at death.

So, as Samuel Beckett said, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better."