Kathy Donchak

March 21, 2022

The Essence of Us

I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me—the world of my parents… or the world of wars. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and re-create myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.

The Quotable Anais Nin: 365 Quotations with Citations by Anais Nin

In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of ______. But I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith - only, say, a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.

- Upstream by Mary Oliver

I dip in and out of books, revisiting some so often the bindings give way. The teachers I will never meet are ever-present on the bookshelf above my desk. They help me find the words to begin when I have no words.

Looking at the images from the invasion of a peaceful Ukraine, I see how people respond and do what they cannot not do. The artist creates, the pianist plays, the writer writes, the mothers and fathers love, the soldiers fight, the leaders lead, and the elders with their memory of darker times show resistance through hope.

All of us possess a quality that can never be taken by force. One that in times of great struggle becomes the most important contribution we have to give ourselves and the world. It is the very spirit of a human being that we value above all else, a spirit that grows in the invisible places we carry with us. A spirit that is the very essence of us.

*Sunday Letter March 13, 2022