Sunday, June 19, 2005

In Progress

While searching for new books to read, I remembered that my favorite lyricist David Berman* was a published author as well. I guess now that Silver Jews no longer really record he's more of an author than a musician, but I'll always love him for his first love.

He has a poem/essay/unsung lyrics? that's posted to The (a site about which I know nothing). Most of the lines are good, some are simply perfect. There is an incredibly economy of words and yet like his lyrics they haunt me and help me better make sense of my own thoughts.

"If the fable of "The grasshopper and the ants" was amended so that the world ended before the turn of winter, then the grasshopper would have been wiser and the moral would have vindicated him. In a story, the location of the ending is very deliberate."

I love this image. It has the pacing of a great stand up comedian, but it's this perfect pearl of wisdom. Where you put the end determines a lot about what's to be learned from an experience. It has a lot to do with where you put the period. And while I think I know what I am to have learned or gleaned from the past 10 months the truth is I am making the easy and arrogant mistake of thinking I know where the end is. The act of assuming finality to our stories and our experiences tends to make fools of us all.

The passage reminds me of one of my favorite exchanges in all of film. At his High School reunion John Cusak is talking with an old friend who has a child, and he's marvelling at her child and is generally absorbed with the notion of creation rather than destruction. The camera pans over to him as he stares at the child and she (off camera) asks: "So how are you? How's your life?" To which he memorably responds, "In progress."

*He of Silver Jews fame...or at least moderate recognition if not fame

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