Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That Dark and Twisted Little Laugh

Communication by e-mail and instant messaging can be the casual flounce of words screen to screen, ideas tossed lightly, loosely, telegraphically. The mediums seem to encourage the immediate and impulsive. Of course the words can also go deep and convey hard thought; the exchange can have the feeling of a serious conversation. The other day I received a wise and beautiful e-mail from a high school friend, Tom. Here's a brief excerpt:

... my learned lesson that I attempt to abide by these days is this: There are really only two things that for me warrant any prolonged concern - love and health. Everything else takes a distant back seat and ultimately is of fleeting value. This of course is not to say that other things aren't good, fun, sad, debilitating or something else; but they don't really alter life very much or at least should not be afforded the opportunity.

Here is part of my response:

I like your philosophy. Love and health. How about creativity/art (in the broadest, most inclusive sense)? What also surfaces in my mind: truth (yeah, even if it hurts), and, strangely, humor. Somehow the dark and twisted little laugh is what saves me again and again. I see a strong link between comedy and poetry ... they can work the same way. Metaphors and jokes ... think about it. Disparate things magically/absurdly linked. The way they cinch together the far edges of the universe. The way they turn things inside-out. The beautiful surprise of both. (Back in time, during an author interview, the interviewer asked me if there was anything I had left out in our discussion of poetry. Yes, humor! I've been meaning to revisit this topic on my blog. Maybe you've just helped me write the post.) How about Soul and Spirit? (Soulful and spirited?) Compassion? Yes, and hope, that flickering flashlight. And back to that word, magic. The sudden bursts of sparks in life. But I agree, love is the top item, and possibly the overlord of them all.


Note: I decided not to edit this exchange, since in its direct and unpolished way, it conveys the ease of communication ... and tells the truth.

Tom's words were reprinted here with his permission. The photo of bark was taken up the hill from my house. Click on image to enlarge.

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