313: “No Answer To It” (John Colburn)

                “Well, death is normal. It’s not pathological. There is no answer to it. It’s not a problem to solve.” -John Colburn, “The Western Story” (published in Ninth Letter)

                One night, a week ago, I lay in bed and felt pretty sad. And I’d like to sit with that, give myself a chance to feel it, but laying and watching the fog roll in, it was also lovely to let it be. To realize my sadness didn’t need an answer.
                It’s so easy to lash out instead. When I was ten or eleven, my friend and I wrestled for a book we both wanted and ended up tearing the thing in half. The first thing I said was something like, “You did it.” I was sad. Worried. Embarrassed. Books were something you treated with respect, and this one wasn’t mine. I was also angry, and ready to be indignant, as though someone had done this to me. As though this was someone’s fault and something should be done. Then I wouldn’t have to be sitting there, holding half a book, feeling bad. Maybe the book would even be whole.
                At thirteen, when I cut my foot with a crowbar, I didn’t get angry. I’m not sure why. I remember looking at the gash in my skin and thinking, “That’s going to bleed.” A moment later it was. I called my brother and he helped me with bandages. What helped me, right then, to see my hurt and accept it?
                It’s not a problem to solve. One night, a week ago, I lay in bed and felt really sad. That night I also saw a satellite. That night it got cold, even out here in warm California, and I got to burrow into my blankets. The next morning I woke up to my nieces laughing as they went to feed the dog. Lovely, really, and maybe so much of it doesn’t need an answer.

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