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Writing a novel lends itself to the exploration of grief, the way that sadness surges and recedes. A novel allows for immersion. It allows readers to be swallowed, to disappear into the narrative.  >

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The morning after my father died | On Flickr

Elmo Keep September 12

Elmo

Hey. I don’t mean this as grief tourism, okay? It’s been a lot of years, and now I am pretty fine about things. But what I do mean it as is, holy shit, is the going to be the equivalent of finding old photos in an attic box? I mean, all the tiny forgettings of our digital selves? This photo is in my Flickr archives from 2003/4, which I’ve let lay dormant in the intervening years. Since unlocking them I’ve found it’s a tiny window now flung open onto this exact, quite awful time in my life. It’s weird, seeing it now at this far remove, looking at myself when I was 22.

I have zero memory of taking this photo. I wanted to capture this moment, obviously, for some reason at the time. I think I was much more narcissistic when I was in my twenties, like many young people on the internet are, trying to prove constantly that you are someone, that you’re doing something. Which also makes me think, though, are we really that much more narcissistic than people older than us? Or would this have happened to anyone who waded into a time and place where it was possible to capture and share every moment of your life with everyone you know? If we told ourselves no stories of our lives, then the things that happen to us would just be an extraordinarily confusing string of unconnected occurrences.

So I think, yes. I think they would have done it too, because the urge to prove that you were here goes as far back as leaving a hand print on a cave wall in Lascaux.

I think that all these things are, is proofs. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Proofs that you existed, and that at some points in your life you survived a very great pain. Because it will happen to you, and you will survive it, and you will want reassurances that other people survived it too. Jon said this when I talked to him about his memoir which he wrote aged 32, “People want to relate to other people’s pain.” Marieke wrote a memoir and I talked to her about it, and I asked her if a lot of writing it was about saying that everyone in their life is just muddling through, doing the best they can? And she said, yes. “So, so much of it.”

I would go back to the girl in this photo and say, please, try not to worry. You have no idea how well and lovely things are going to turn out for you, eventually.


 

Comments

by Chad
30 Sep 11 at 12:56

Lovely post. Nearing twice on 20, I question is we share to reflect, to connect, to expose, or to prove our significance (http://www.renando.com/blog/index.php/2011/06/a-search-for-significance-in-an-omniscient-internet/). I think, perhaps, with this post you may have done all of the above? :)

Chad who is giving himself another 20 to either find the answer or to realise he no longer needs to question

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