We lost a good writer this week — Joan Didion. But I take comfort in the fact that we didn’t lose the words. They will be here, as long as we need them. She wrote with such a clarity, even in times of complete distress. She wrote of the hippies, and drug culture in California. She wrote of losing her husband. Her daughter. She says, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices.”
One of my favorite titles was her book, “Slouching towards Bethlehem.” She took this title from the poet Yeats — “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Didion stands in the same position as Yeats’s narrator, describing a social disaster of her time, feeling the center starting to give out.
The “rough beasts” seem to surround us still, and always. But sometimes it feels they are doing a lot more than slouching. So I look to my center. To hold me. And I find it in the words. The words in poems. In books. In songs. The words that gather in my heart and spill to the page each day. I find it in the ones I love. Standing tall. Standing beside. Ever upward. Whenever I need them.
This is my core. My center. I believe it will hold. I tell myself today’s story. And I live.