Author Archives: Sidney Stark

We All Change; So They Say~

We All Change; So They Say~

“…the only hope given us, although only in retrospect, is that we change.” ~ Michael Ondaatje in Warlight.

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At a recent reading given by New Yorker book critic and award-winning author James Wood, he introduced his new novel called Upstate, about family relationships and the universality of the interactions within them. The author described the discomfort felt by a father visiting his daughter in her adult home, as opposed to his ease in having her return to his. Obviously, the latter assured him that not much had changed, and she was still his little girl, where the former reminded him that everything had changed, undeniably her and especially him. The truth of this disclosure was striking in its simplicity and commonality. It recalled for me the ending of Tara Westover’s stunning new memoir, Educated, in which she states, “I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her.”

Initially, that sentence shook me in its perceptiveness, exposing the nature of loneliness connected to leaving family and home, and of course, childhood. Fledging into the people we are to become can seem like the ultimate act of freedom, but we all know its bittersweet quality of something gained but so much lost. Do we really want to be free, let out of the cage that gave us structure? Ms. Westover’s insight comes from the point of view of the child leaving the parent, while Mr. Wood spoke of the parent’s unique agony of letting go of not only a child, but his own life as he acknowledges the change. I see that as the more challenging of the two truths. As a grandparent, I looked a little deeper and picked up the thread of what life is really telling both the child (who doesn’t want to hear anything) and the parent who isn’t confident enough to demand to be heard.

I’ve come to realize Ms. Westover is only partly right when she says she is not the same, but her father is. No one stands still while they breathe. We all grow and change, and we keep fledging throughout our lives. Our children, former associates and friends, relatives and acquaintances from the past all need to know that we, too, are different. Maybe we’re all afraid of accepting that we’ve moved on in our lives because it marks evolution none of us feel comfortable with. I know this to be true and assure anyone who feels the fear that it’s all for the good. It’s much worse to be left behind.

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Live and In Person~ or the hand on the page

Live and In Person~ or the hand on the page

  Forever is composed of nows. – Emily Dickinson ******** Let’s face it; we’re all struggling to control the use of this addictive substance called technology. I was most aware of it recently during a news program about modern musicians who’ve started to ban cell phones and videos from their performances. The young guitarist being interviewed… Continue Reading

Outliers

Outliers

“It seemed to me that I made no impact on the world, and that in exchange I was privileged to watch it unawares.” ~ Marilynne Robinson ****** It carries a certain cachet for me, and maybe for everyone else, too. There’s a rakishness to the label of ‘outlier’.  I realize that could come entirely from… Continue Reading

A Sore Point

A Sore Point

“Fiction—and poetry and drama—cleanse the doors of perception.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin **** The theater critic, Ben Brantley, wrote recently for the New York Times on the exhibit of Tennessee Williams memorabilia at the Morgan Library in New York. It’s a wonderful piece of writing and well worth your time for its own merits,… Continue Reading