Thursday, July 28, 2011

On forming your destiny

I just finished The Untelling by Tayari Jones. It wasn't literary genius like anything by Toni Morrison or Edwidge Danticat, my ultimate favorites. But it was a good read about a modern day black woman whose tragic past was a part of uncertain present. What struck me and stayed with me after reaching the end was that the main character Aria didn't want to tell her boyfriend, turned fiance', that what she believed to be a pregnancy was an illness that led her to learn that she was menopausal and incapable of bearing children at a very young 25 years old.

She didn't want to tell this boyfriend the truth, because in her words, "Dwayne is going to leave me." And he did leave her, not because she couldn't have children, but because she didn't tell him the truth. She told everyone else and he learned from a third party and couldn't understand why she couldn't be honest, thus he couldn't marry someone who could hide something so serious. He did leave her as she expected, though not for the reason she expected. She either spoke it into being or knew through her communion with her self what would become of this relationship.

The story ends on a rather forced moral: "There is balm in the telling, and in the hearing too. These words, these truths will ride on the air like a ragged scrap of song. ... Our past is never passed and there is no such thing as moving on. But there is this telling and there is such a thing as passing through."

I think our past forms, reforms, transforms us on many levels as often as we let it. And though I believe that telling the truth, telling our story can heal us and others, I believe we neglect the power in speaking what we want for ourselves.

I love Project Runway for that reason: these talented designers choose and speak what they want for their lives and they run after it with such passion.

Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club echoes the power of speaking for yourself and your future. One of my favorite lines, "And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over." Rose partly expected her marriage to fail and partly let it fall apart. In retrospect, her expectations contributed to the failure of the marriage. Like Aria, in The Untelling, Rose told herself this union will not or can not last. Speaking those words, even to herself, put what would be into motion. She helped to form her fate or destiny.

I firmly believe that when things fall apart, as they do, or you lose something you love, faith is powerful and takes over and helps to reform you. But, the more I read literature and people, I firmly believe, there is power in speaking what you want for yourself.

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