Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Into thin air

Because I've been teaching The Sound and the Fury and thus immersing myself and my students in that cacophony of amazing/annoying/irresistible voices--

And because I've been reading draft after freshman draft tackling similar topics with varying degrees of grace, elegance, and precision--

And because I've been sharing with my honors students Anne Lamott's excellent advice about silencing those squeaky-wheel voices in our heads that stand in the way of getting words down on the page--

And because we've reached the point in the semester when absolutely everyone wants a piece of me at every moment of the day, sometimes on opposite ends of campus at the same time--

I decided to turn off the radio in my car and drive home surrounded by silence, nothing but engine noise to disrupt my thoughts for 22 straight minutes.

It was great.

I'm not Faulkner so I won't try to recreate my stream of consciousness during that drive, but I know my thoughts returned again and again to the solo my daughter sang in church on Sunday about the balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole, the wonder of seeing my little girl all grown up and spreading comfort through song, and I thought of those marvelous tree images in the last three books of Homer's Odyssey--the immovable bride-bed firmly rooted in place; the fruit trees given to the child as a promise of future production; the oar planted in the earth like a tree to mark the end of the hero's journey--and somehow that took me back to Faulkner and Dilsey's conviction that she has seen the beginning and the end, her search for a moment of thrumming quiet in that chaotic household, and her barely perceptible humming, one of the few intrusions of music into the text--

And I don't know what else I thought but I stopped thinking entirely when I turned onto my road and the red-tailed hawk swooped down and preceded my car up the hill through the woods and then it swooped upward and disappeared, taking all those voices into thin air.

And now I'm ready to enjoy my evening.


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