Wednesday, December 12, 2012

soul food

Emmett Coyne, a Catholic priest and author of "The Theology of Fear," sent a nice note yesterday from his wintering lair in Mexico. Despite an uncharacteristic chill to yesterday's south-of-the-border day, still I could imagine it was warmer than his usual digs in New Hampshire.

Emmett was responding to the fact that I had sent along a short piece about the vagaries of retirement -- something the local paper has promised to print at some juncture.

Two things in the response caught my eye-mind. 1. The fact that although Emmett is staying in a town of about 100,000 people, still there are no traffic lights. To some, this might be seen as an indicator of backwardness, but Emmett chose to suggest that the lack of traffic lights said something about the primacy of human beings. People were important; technology came later. The whole equation might be higglety-pigglety and disordered ... and yet wasn't that something worth honoring? Which is more fucked up -- a well-ordered mind or a mind that zips hither and yon? That's a false question, I suppose, but it sounded good when I was asking it. :)

2. In his note, Emmett said that the article I sent was a bit of "soul food" for those of a certain age who might read it and feel the uncertainties that accompany retirement. "Soul food" is more commonly stuff like ham hocks and collard greens and grits, but metaphorically ...

"Soul food" ... I suppose that's what writing about anything is and yet I sometimes wish the "soul food" of writing were not my style ... that somehow I could write something less edgy, less concerned with what others might find frightening or  disturbing or elevating. This is not to suggest that I am good at what I do; rather it is to describe what interests me and, like eating potato chips, why I can't stop. Funny how anyone might forgive a sports writer for writing about sports and yet there is something embarrassing and outlandish about pushing a "soul food" agenda ... or anyway, there is for me.

Oh well ... a bit of mental chewing gum and belly-button lint: "Soul food."

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