Last weekend I taught my Zen-fueled writing workshop in Astoria. It was perhaps the last of these unique literary gatherings as I move forward in new unforeseen directions with my teaching and writing. I will miss teaching in the marvelous and inspiring house of my great friends, Jennifer and Holt. They helped save my life and provided a space where so many writers prospered.
Twelve writers participated and we conversed, wrote, shared, laughed, listened and went on a wonderful collaborative journey together that was quite clearly an antidote for these angry, hurried times.
I wrote along with the participants and below is my response to the prompt (taken from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), write about one side of an American coin: (mine was a penny)
The Lincoln Memorial…it’s what we’re supposed to stand for…all the ideals are contained and flow within this edifice. He just sits there in that huge, magisterial chair, with words from the Gettysburg Address etched in marble, great words—the best words of American life that today read like fiction. Or have they always read like fiction? When the Memorial was opened in the 1920s, America was still segregated, the KKK was riding high, and black men were routinely lynched. Think of that contradiction! It’s always the ideal and the reality of American life, that juxtaposition, the eternal struggle to live up to the words of the Gettysburg Address. Do we really even try anymore? At times we have.