There are so many ways to make a living of this life and never more apparent than when you are changing course and committed to chasing a dream. Your senses open. You hear the others’ stories with intention, every impression coloring the imagination. Interest becomes infectious and the conversations carry on longer and with a deeper timbre.
I may learn empathy yet.
Tracking down a vague memory of a line of poetry about “making a living,” I found this 1974 New York Times article and remembrance of Anne Sexton…the first poet I discovered on my own and whose complete works I read obsessively as a teenager. What I was trying to recall, “Look, you con man, make a living out of your death,” was actually a line by Ernest Hemingway from A Moveable Feast which Sexton used as the epigraph of her last book before her suicide, The Death Notebooks.
The business of words for Sexton was only a means to the real living that consumed her. Raw and unreserved but sharpened to outline the clutter in her mind, you can’t find resolution or explanation of life in her “confessional” poetry. This was her craft, the wake she left chasing the intangible dream of dying, the product of making a living of her death.
Making a living of simply living is my intangible dream and for this go around, I am taking the chase to the sea. I can only imagine what may lay in my wake. Maybe even empathy.
Said the Poet to the Analyst – Anne Sexton My business is words. Words are like labels, or coins, or better, like swarming bees. I confess I am only broken by the sources of things; as if words were counted like dead bees in the attic, unbuckled from their yellow eyes and their dry wings. I must always forget how one word is able to pick out another, to manner another, until I have got something I might have said... but did not. Your business is watching my words. But I admit nothing. I work with my best, for instance, when I can write my praise for a nickel machine, that one night in Nevada: telling how the magic jackpot came clacking three bells out, over the lucky screen. But if you should say this is something it is not, then I grow weak, remembering how my hands felt funny and ridiculous and crowded with all the believing money.