Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stuck

Inability to write is most often just an inability to think -- and so it bothers me that I'm encountering writer's block these days.  One of the joys of the job (from a purely analytic perspective) is being handed a position and asked to write public points to explain it.  The sensation of stripping down a stance to the fundamental arguments, pressing on it until it unfolds neatly, like a puzzle box, is very satisfying.  Lately, however, I find myself circling and circling positions, looking for an entrée that would allow me to explain them.

I left home for university when I was seventeen.  The day before, my youngest sister and I sat together at the kitchen table where she was cutting up newspaper to make a collage.  She was ten.

"You're leaving," she said, not looking up from the scissors working steadily up and down in her grip.  "Yes."  It was a rare moment of quiet in the house.  The pages of newspaper rustled gently under the fan.  "Are you coming back?"  I considered this for a bit.  "No," I finally told her -- "only to visit."  She nodded thoughtfully.

"Well, just don't lose this."  And she handed me a scrap of newspaper from the pile.  She had cut precisely around a single word:  'integrity'.

I still have the slip of newspaper.  Sitting at my desk, considering what to draft, I still think about that day in the kitchen and the promise I made her.  "Don't worry," I assured her, fingering the scrap for a moment before sliding it into my pocket.  "I won't."