Show Your Work

marla's housd.jpg

My aunt and uncle's home in New Hampshire is a place of refuge for me. It's a place to spread out and rest, to cozy in under blankets and warm socks by the fire.

So much of what is said there sticks firmly in my memory and travels with me on the way, including a conversation I had with my aunt once about a book she had recently read. It was by someone like Thomas Moore, and her complaint was that it was heavy on conclusions but light on narrative. She said, "I wanted him to show his work--I wanted to know how he got there, what he was reading, who he was talking to, what was happening in his life."

And I knew it wasn't just the science teacher in her talking.

The journey doesn't only matter, but it in itself is instructive, even though it is still common practice to separate wisdom from the stories that landed us on its shore.

Showing your work isn't easy--it's hard to sometimes understand the way different parts or pieces synthesize together inside of us. It's hard to acknowledge the influence of people we'd rather forget, to talk about the breaking and losing in equal measure as the building and finding.  And no matter how we try, the closest we can get is an approximation of the whole, which is more richly textured and multi-dimensional than our screens and pages can hold.

And yet. Showing Your Work doesn't leave me, it keeps beckoning me to try. To tell the stories behind the thoughts, to acknowledge the people and conversations and moments that bring me there. To let the journey itself teach us all.