“The truth needs so little rehearsal.” – Barbara Kingsolver
Early on in our married life, Most Beautiful One (MBO) and I decided that we would always be honest with each other. This commitment has stood the test of time. The only significant truths I withhold are birthday surprises and when she wakes up with wild curly bedhead and asks me, “How’s my hair look this morning?”
Ever since reading the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (born 1955), I’ve thought it would be cool to have a literal last name like Kingsolver. All Lisagor got me when I was younger was the nickname Lizard or Lizzie. So, imagine me as Michael Troublemaker or Sillyman or Princefixer?
No? Well, anyway, when Barbara “Lucky to be Named” Kingsolver was seven years old, her father, a physician, took the family to Léopoldville, Congo (now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo). Her parents worked in a public health capacity and the family lived without electricity or running water. This experience greatly affected her sense of social justice, belief in the power of hope, affinity for living off the land, and choice of a science and, eventually, fiction and poetry writing career. Here’s a list of ten of her most popular books.
In college in Arizona, she changed her major to biology when she realized that "classical pianists compete for six job openings a year, and the rest of us get to play 'Blue Moon' in a hotel lobby.” She was involved in activism on her campus and, like us, took part in protests against the Vietnam war. The characters in her books deal with the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants, the working poor, and single mothers as well as the relationship between people and their natural environment.
While no longer active, she was a founding member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band made up of published writers. Other band members include Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry and Stephen King. Kingsolver now lives with her family on a farm in Washington County, Virginia.
At a commencement address she gave several years ago at Duke University, Kingsolver said, “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
This is the never-ending struggle faced by all of us. I rekindle it every morning and then measure my progress later at night. Some days go better than others. But, my resiliency and capacity for hope has continued to grow.
I can particularly relate to this Kingsolver quote: “It's a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can't begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.”
MBO and I have had a half-century running battle between my addiction to writing in my office when deep down inside I know there are other things I should be doing. Things I don’t even mind doing except that once I start crafting an article or working on a presentation or speech, I can’t stop. So, in honor of the love of my life, I bid you a fond farewell. I’m off to cook pasta sauce and eat probably too much bread for dinner.
Thanks for reading and let’s all work on keeping each other safe.