Two Short Quotes
I would like to declare a long held admiration for two short quotes – the first being, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” I usually attribute this rather dark assessment of human optimism to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche; however some claim that the original citation rightfully belongs to Susanna Moodie, a Canadian author involved in the early anti-slavery movement. Regardless of who actually holds posthumous claim to the idea’s first etching or utterance, I continue to hold it in high esteem. For those who might assert that only a sadly pessimistic heart could hold such a nihilistic sentiment so dear, perhaps I should offer some justification for my adoration. I believe that only through the thoughtful consideration and artistic reflection of all aspects of human nature and circumstance – from the darkest shadows to the brightest lights – can we achieve even a modicum of enlightenment. Furthermore, for individuals who live the whole, or the majority of their existence in a world where religious hypocrisy is ubiquitous; or where certain human beings are maltreated chattel; or where plague exists like a thick and ever-present, toxic fog, the notion of hope as a sinister drive towards some impossible liberation makes perfect, ironic, poetic sense to me.
And so, it is with thoughtful consideration and artistic reflection that I began this project. The installments move forward as a kind of braided, autobiographical narrative. The two main, alternating strands are short essays recounting certain events in my life that have served, for better or worse, to shape me in some way. One of these strands begins with my very first memories (The Last Baby Born in Camelot); and the second strand kicks off when I am forty-four years old, HIV+ for more than two decades, on the day that I was asked to father a child (Daddy Call: Part One). The third and final intersecting element is a less frequent, op-ed-esqe type thread called “Dropping the Soap” – inspired by relevant happenings or topical news items. Like the structure of the piece, the benefits of the project are triune as well. First, as a writer, I have a work that I am passionate about crafting. Second, as a father, I am creating a document of legacy for my son. Third, as a human being, I am afforded the opportunity of evolving a little bit more toward the man I want to be when I finally exhale my last breath.
The chronological nature of this blog obliges me to suggest that first-time visitors read from the beginning, however the short explanation of the content that you just read should provide enough of a hand-hold should you decide that you would rather jump right in. Finally, Coming Clean: Confessions of an HIV+ Dad was conceived – and continues to develop – as a finite undertaking. The goal is a weekly addition for a couple of years or so until the story is told to some logical completion. That said, I am not exactly sure yet where, when, or how the end will come. I am well aware that starting a narrative without at least an expectation of how the story resolves is not an oft-recommended technique. I do, however, have a clear trajectory and I have hope that the ideal conclusion will reveal itself when the time is right. See there? I just said, “I have hope….” That leads me to my second favorite quote. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee – the author of such lighthearted theatrical fare as: The Goat, Three Tall Women, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – once said, “If I was a pessimist, I would not write.”