In April 2011, the International Writing Program launched " Writers in Motion", a study tour of the Mid-Atlantic and the American South, where eight international writers are exploring the theme of "Fall and Recovery." The writers are traveling to Gettysburg (April 3-5), Baltimore (April 5-6), New Orleans (April 6-8), the Gulf Coast (Morgan City, the Achafalaya Basin, Lafayette, April 8-11), Birmingham, AL (April 11-12) and Washington, D.C. (April 13-15) to examine some of the challenges presented by historical crises and upheavals, both natural and social.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life goes on, or rather...

We tend to believe that things are replaceable. Our clothes last hardly a season or two, we throw away eternal lasting plastic dishes as soon as we quench our hunger. By tomorrow, everything we have will appear in a better, smaller, more perfect version. The only problem is that we slowly start to believe that people can be replaced much the same way. No doubt, our job could be certainly done equally well by many others. There are also those waiting in a line to jump into our lives, to love our lovers, take our kids to kindergartens, put their clothes into our closets.
Because whatever happens, life goes on… There are very few things so encouraging and yet so frightening as knowing that there is so much truth in a well-worn phrase that life goes on. Sometimes slowly and painfully, with hesitance, other times easily and energetically, without fear, but one stands up after falling down. And then what. We shake it off, count our loses and move on. We round off casualties to the nearest number (History rounds off skeletons to zero, a thousand and one is still only a thousand …). On anniversaries, we pay our respect, fix what’s broken and quickly put on the mask of normality. We hail the recovery as a sign of strength. Should a tear appear after some time, we’ll quickly wipe it away, secretly, with a feeling of uneasiness…
One can have a pleasant time in New Orleans oblivious of what happened here six years ago. The city has been given a makeover for tourists, it has put on a smile, opened its shops and restaurants, offering souvenirs, massage, sightseeing tours. New Orleans again gives what everyone has come for – a place of great and unlimited fun where one can smoke in bars, listen to the street music and be free. The Music Festival is on and the French Quarter is swarming with people. Old people dance passionately in front of the stage looking as if the faith in flower power has never died. A group of people are laughing under a small tree, talking shelter from the warm spring sun: they’re wearing cheerful red lobster hats on their heads. Beautiful students dressed up in a carefully careless way, moving their hips in the rhythm of the music. Life triumphs. There is no yesterday. We don’t look backwards.
This abundance of colors, aromas and sounds, a sunny day that always makes the world look more beautiful, all that fights against the gloomy thoughts and calls for oblivion. Amnesia is healing, it makes life easier. How else could we live. On a day like this, how would it feel to think about which one of those nice and hospitable people, a few years ago, was the first to make step towards bestiality, the first to pull the gun. And who was standing hopelessly on the roof, with no one to expect.
Blissful in our forgetfulness we taste gumbo, throw coins to street musicians, drink cocktails and expose our pale bodies to the warm sun for the first time this year. And everything is happening for the first time. It is the power of life that makes sprouts break through the earth in April which indeed is the cruelest month. The explosion of that magnificent cruelty is happening before our own eyes. All the way in the corner of the picture, a young mother with ample bust is feeding her baby on a lawn, they’re both unperturbed by the noisy clamor around them. Relentless and unstoppable, life goes on… The shivers going down the spine of a bystander may just be those of excitement over the power of nature and not of bewilderment and horror.

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