Je suis malade. This season’s first cold virus has become my teacher. It’s a setback from which I must observe my life without engaging with my usual gusto and determination. Retreating to the couch with a thick pile of fleece blankets, the dog hair and dust catches sunbeams while I sip tea and watch yet another French film where everyone smokes and commits suicide. Ahh, the sound of this language! The stark naked realism! I love foreign film. Perhaps when I’m feeling better I’ll be in the mood for lighter stories, but when I’m down, I like depressed company.
Now this is something I wouldn’t admit during a gathering of home educators, but if I had to name our style of learning I would call it “whimsical.” We investigate everything that draws our attention, until we’re bored and interested in something else. I’m comforted by Braver Writer Julie Bogart’s claim that “everything counts.” This week, we’re into languages. I requested a pile of audio cd’s from the library so we can sample spoken Spanish, French and German. Elliot is interested in French, so he’s been listening to a few that are geared for kids. One of these attempts to teach French through silly songs. Elliot HATES them. After listening to one song where Professor Toto repeats “je suis malade” he begged me to never replay it. It is the kind of thing that sticks in your head and replays all day, over and over, annoying you with it’s simple, easily repeatable tune. I’m sure he’ll never forget it. But that’s not the way we really want to learn.
Je suis malade.
I tried to write a bit between blowing my nose and sucking on lozenges. I started a story about a character who is burdened with the keeping of secrets. I decided that since so much is revealed in confessional type stories, I was just going to describe a life where the secrets would not be revealed, and how the bearing of the unbearable in silence affected life. We all have an impulse to release something internal that lives in shadow. I live like this. I am bound to keep hidden what must remain hidden.
Everything counts. Even the things we will not reveal. But the value here is that those secrets carry weight in the mystery. There’s no reason to be completely naked in writing, just like we are not completely intimate with everyone we encounter on the street.
For now, my dilemma rests here in the keeping of the mysteries. With no expectation to accomplish anything, while I was sick I was able to move past my biggest writing block that has plagued me for months. When there is no way not to hurt someone in writing the truth, leave it out and write about the burden of keeping secrets.