I haven’t posted for a while. It seemed a little egocentric to discuss my small joys and pains, affecting no one but me, when the whole country is in pain with few joys in which to take take solace. I even spent one complete day in bed, reading what is probably a very funny book and feeling a spark or two of gratitude to the author for his attempts to pull me out of the doldrums. But I got up at dinnertime, turned on the news and discovered I was still slogging in them.
Do we all feel this way during this election month? That our country is in for a tough few years no matter who wins—and not necessarily because of who wins, but because of our inability listen to each other?
In the story I’m trying to write now, because I have a character who is an alcoholic, I’ve talked with people personally involved in AA and have researched Alcoholic Anonymous programs. My character is a damaged drunk, a poor husband, a negligent father , an irresponsible worker, and he likes it that way. AA advises that not until a disaster strikes him will he realize that he has hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere else to go––except, possibly, up.
This may be the point at which Jack, my character, will seek help, from a rehab facility, from a counselor, and from his wife if she is still around. I don’t know yet. My plots evolve as I write, and often times have redemptive endings, so I’m hopeful about Jack’s future. If he turns his life around, it will be because he decidesto make difficult choices. No one can force him to change, not even his weeping wife. I do not know how Jack’s story will end.
Just as I, and we, do not know what will happen next in our stymied, ineffective, damaged federal government. Perhaps we as a people have to hit bottom before we decide to make choices that will make change possible. I’m not talking about political parties. I’m talking about our learning to listen, as individuals, to the geographical, philosophical, ethnic, rich and poor, young and old strangers who make up our country–and to paraphrase a familiar set of words, who can make America strong again.