Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Writers Block

I am stuck.  It's a common problem for writers, apparently.  A good friend solved her stuckness of two months by hitting her head against a wall - something I may try.
My first draft came more easily than my third, when words flowed onto the page and I worried less about structure.  The revision is stifling, but I must go on.  I must remember how it feels when the page smiles back at you.
 On a good day, writing reminds me of my solo travels in Italy or Switzerland, when a cobble-stoned path in a village would pull me in at its fork, forcing me to take the path to the right or left; then I would climb its ancient narrow stairways until my thighs burned and I cursed the bowl of pasta I had eaten for lunch, when all I could see was a shard of blue sky in between laundry that was stretched across an alleyway, strung from tiny balconies perched into walls of stone.  It would be about when my knees groaned and begged for a break that the kitchen smells and dampness of the alleyway suddenly ended, giving way to gardens and meadows - a sign that I had left something behind and was headed toward a new discovery.  Soon, or hours later, I would reap my reward; a spectacular overview of a lake or mountain ridge, something much larger than myself that had always been here, that I never would have discovered had I not taken the fork in the road......

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Handshake

A man sitting in the audience suddenly jumped to his feet.  I had just finished speaking at a Holocaust Memorial event where I shared the story of my mother, her family and their rescuers. I took in the older man’s tall athletic frame, weathered skin and full head of brown hair and sized him up as being around sixty years old.
     His voice boomed like thunder across the same auditorium where I needed to be amplified by microphone minutes before. He told us that sixty nine years ago, he drove through the gates of Dachau Concentration Camp as a liberator with the US Army; a young solider of twenty two whose life would be changed by what he saw there. He wanted that no one forget his shock, and spoke out in support of Yom Ha'Shoa Memorial Day. He wanted us to make sure we never let it happen again.
      When I remarked to him later, that without knowing it, my grandfather, enclosed behind the wire, may have waved to him in thanks, he said – no – he recalled few live prisoners. It was the convoy of railway cars that seemed to have no end, crammed with thousands of stick-thin corpses that left an indelible impression on him; one that lingers still today.
    Clenching his hand, I thanked him for bringing freedom and hope to the forgotten, and for remembering. In that moment, I knew that in sharing the story of my mother’s rescuers  – people who were open minded enough to act against intolerance and hatred – my grandfather was shaking the old soldier's hand, through me.