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Why everything is going to be OK. [by Jennifer Michael Hecht]

EspressoDear Bleaders,

I’m supposed to be cleaning!  I was given a specific task: straighten up the kid’s bookshelves for Jessie’s birthday party this weekend.  But then my husband, who suggested this task, took the kids and went to Goodwill to get rid of some of the heaps of stuff of which we’re getting rid, leaving me alone to sneak like a thief back to my computer to write you guys a quick post.

I figure as long as I finish by the time he’s back, I’m good.  So.  What I want to tell you is pretty important.  I spent the weekend in Omaha and now have another Homaha in these United States.  What great people I met.  Ridiculously cool people.  Ridunkulous.  And they gave me roast beast, and took me to hear Yo Yo Ma, and made jokes about Exit 420.   If you don’t get it, don’t pay it no mind, but if you do get it, you get that it is good to know.  I gave 6 talks in four days!  One to a synagogue full of clergy, mostly Catholic priests, collared and mostly grey-haired.  Some rabbis, some ministers, some visitors, a lovely woman who said she’d driven six hours to see me.

I told them that I’d come to tell them about Poetic Atheism.  There is no God, but as Durkheim said a hundred years ago, what we thought was God, was the community.  What we feel when we are gathered together, that there is something larger than us, that feeling is true.  It’s us. 

We can add to it that what we thought of as faith is love.  We have to try to believe in each other, in our mutual misery and compassion.  

The solace we have to offer one another is sufficient to our wounds.

Our feelings of meaning are sufficient to the definition of meaning.

There is no hidden world of meaning.  The feelings of meaning are the meaning.  It’s all true.

Human beings need community, meditation, and ritual.  We need to come together and pray that we will do the right thing, that we will help each other, and that we are capable of helping one another.  It’s a long shot, but it’s better than trying to believe in some third party and hoping that he will do the right thing. 

Am I telling you that all this time you’ve been alone in the dark?  Yes.  Come sit with us.  We're right here.  Turn on the light.

We must look after one another.  There is no heaven.  We are all going to die, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, maybe two years from now, maybe forty years from now, maybe sixty.  It doesn’t matter all that much.  There is an eternity on either side, an eternity, so who cares?  Life is not theater, you can’t miss the end.  You are here.  It’s wonderful.  We made it into existence together. 

We have to start coming together and singing, celebrating.  Health Care, people!  Gorgeous African-American president and presidential family!  Now is the time to lift our voices up.  We are all there is.  We don’t have it for very long.  We have it right now.  America is a lot of things.  I know.  Tea party.  I know.  Beck, and not the good kind.  But it’s okay.

We are here together.  We can keep each other company.  We can see that if this is the world, if our consciousness is what we have of consciousness, than what we feel and what we make is very important indeed.  You’re sacred because you are, and it’s my job to support your awareness of the true and glorious reality that is.  It’s your job to support this awareness in the rest of us.  We are getting better at this.  We are going to get even better.  That's why everything is going to be okay.

Excellent work staying alive since last week, most of you.  Let’s try to do even better next week.

By the way, on my way home from the airport we got stopped on the Brooklyn Bridge and there we stayed for two and a half hours, my whole little family and me, from around 12:30 am to 3 am, when they finally backed us off the bridge.  Meanwhile we got out of our cars.  We heard someone had jumped and saw boats and helicopters shining lights.  Then we heard there was a woman who had climbed up into the bridge girders and was going to jump.  John encouraged me to walk down to where it was all happening; given what I’d been writing about lately, I should just go down and see.  So I did, there was a woman up there, a cop up there near her, I saw him hand her a cigarette, I saw him light it for her, I saw her talking to him, I saw her move her long, brown hair behind her ear. 

Like I said, she hadn’t come down when we left, they’d turned us around to get out, but I felt sure she’d come down, she was talking calmly for hours, there were tons of people everywhere.  We googled it when we got home but saw nothing of it.  Then yesterday saw a report.  She’d jumped.  After we were home in bed.  She’s in critical condition.  A 41-year-old woman from Long Island.  Like so many of us, or thereabouts.  So forgive me, bleaders, for repeating myself.   Stay, everybody.  No more going off the deep end.  Stay.  Let’s all give up together, right here, right now, and have chocolate cake.  But don’t give any to the dog, because chocolate isn’t good for dogs.

I love you like crazy,


from the archive; first posted March 24, 2010

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September 15, 2023

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November 09, 2022

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September 06, 2021

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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