Me, myself, and too much I

Pity the writers hunched over keyboards, racked with longing and loneliness.  

The other day a blogger I like urged readers to comment on a blog — hers, yours, anyone’s.

"But surely," she wrote, "someone else out there is writing by themselves and wondering, Does anyone care?"

It seemed at first sweet, this request for affirmation, and then sad. And then familiar.

A few months ago, one of my favorite writer-bloggers expressed her fatigue. “If you love something on the internet, say so," she wrote, "or it might disappear.”

I nod. Because we're sad, because we're hungry.


Blogs are dead! Are blogs dead? We’re having this debate, again. Email is dead. Conversation is dead. Books are back?

No one talks anymore, and yet everyone talks too much.

If blogs are waning, have we finally tired of talking about ourselves? Or, more likely, we’ve tired of reading about others talking about themselves.

And yet.

And yet, everyone is writing a memoir, sharing on Facebook, offering images on Instagram. All show, all tell, all the time. And I’ve fed this fever. For years in writing workshops I’ve urged people to tell their story. What’s your story? I ask. Only you can tell it.

And now we’ve got a saturation of self.

I’m tired of the “I.” 

"I" leads the way.

And “I” am guilty. It’s tough to get through a page, a blog, a dinner, without the bigmouth I.

We’re shouting to be heard. We, as in me. As in, you too?


Blogging, by its nature, involves the “I.”  And super hits of self: I am a writer, and here’s what I’m thinking, feeling, doing . . .

But it’s not about me. Is it?

But creating — writing, painting, photography — involves the “I”:  I saw this. I felt this. I interpret the world (and myself) through that act of making.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself.
(I am large, I contain multitudes).

- Walt Whitman
Song of Myself


Are blogs over?  

Most of my writing peers have left the room. Did they return to their own private toil, and now keep their trials and triumphs to themselves?  

Who can blame them? In fact, let’s laud them! They know the recipe for art: quietitude, introspection, imagination.

The inner conversation hums and turns, reaches a pressure and, when we're lucky, tumbles out as poem, story, painting. Something essential emerges, something larger and more meaningful than me and I.


At some point you grow weary of sharing your scrapes and scars. You pack for a long trip, prepare for a solo drive, close the door, and start the car.

Are we there yet?


Love the world a little more

“Making art is a way of being present in the world. It is an act of attention,” says artist Yolanda Sánchez, who is featured on 3 Good Books.

Influenced by dance, calligraphy and poetry, Sanchez creates beautifully fluid abstract paintings. “My intention . . . is to widen my boundaries, find new sources of inspiration, discover something I don’t know. Any or all of these experiences make me love the world a little more.”

At Push Pull Books, I invite writers and artists to share their favorite books. Why? Because when we read, creativity stirs. And when we create, our lives expand.



The Book I Want You to Read

It's annoying to pester people about a book they must read.

I'm now that person, imploring you to read this book:

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande.

It's not a charmer. There's no romance or inspiration. Poor health and near death are tough sellers.

But this book is true, necessary. It will stir and shift the way you think about serious illness and approaching death. Atul Gawande is a surgeon, a writer for The New Yorker, and an engaging storyteller. Being Mortal charts his personal experience while also calling for a change in our culture's philosophy of health care.

We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being. . . Whenever serious sickness or injury strikes and your body or mind breaks down, the vital questions are the same:

What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes?

What are your fears and what are your hopes?

What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make?

And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?"

Who should read this book? Caregivers, children with aging parents, people with serious illness, people who are friends of the ill and/or aging, family members of the ill and/or aging, people who are aging, Well, so, I guess that's everyone.

As in, you.

Buy this book. Borrow this book (libraries have it!). And for the time-pressed, watch PBS's Frontline feature on this book.



Larger hungers

Some of the poems are about the hunger

we have for real food, but others are about

the larger hungers — our need for love,

for sex, family, success, the past.

These hungers are a kind of longing.”


For 3 Good Books, I asked Diane Lockward — author of four poetry books, including What Feeds Us, and a blog called Blogalicious — to share her favorite books on the theme of food.

When we read, creativity stirs. And when we create, our lives expand.

See you at 3 Good Books.



On Sunday: Rowing

An excerpt from Rowing, a poem by Anne Sexton