Passover starts at sundown on April 8. We're supposed to "leave the House of Bondage." I think about the things/feelings I'm in bondage to--my fears, my obsessions--and wonder how I can leave them and enter the House of Freedom.
I just attended a concert by Leon Fleischer. Fleischer, who's 80 now, lost the use of his right hand when he was about 35, and spent the next 30 years performing the left-handed repertoire, conducting and teaching. When he was almost 70, a cure was found for the neurological disorder that afflicted him, and he's now back to performing with two hands, and playing more passionately and beautifully than anyone else I've heard recently.
He says he never was bitter, and I wonder if that's true. I wonder what the process was. I imagine panic, followed by some years of agony, and then moving to a new place in his career.
I have a friend in Houston, a poet and a woman, who was diagnosed with late-onset MS. Her first two years with the condition, she tried to work out in psycho-therapy what fears made her fall over. I wonder if a psychiatrist suggested to Mr. Fleischer that he was afraid of appearing in public and so had lost the use of his right hand. Or do those suggestions only get made to women?
The House of Bondage is often self-imposed, where Fear rules and keeps us inside. The shocking murder last week of three Pittsburgh police officers, by a man who said he was afraid that Barack was going to take handguns away from private citizens-- it's hard to imagine why he let that fear rule him so completely that he had to shoot three other people to keep himself safe.
D T Max wrote an essay about David Foster Wallace in the March 9 New Yorker, and quoted a letter Wallace wrote to Jonathan Franzen after he finished Infinite Jest. "I'm sad and empty as I always am, when I finish something long. I don't think it's very goo. [a review] called an excerpt feverish and not entirely satisfying, which goes a long way toward describing the experience of writing the thing." His sister Amy says Wallace was always afraid the last thing he wrote would be the last thing he wrote.
Those are fears that I understand; they keep me in my own house of bondage. I hope whatever fears you hold, you know a way to knock them over and find a path to the House of Freedom.