Unsent letters, unvoiced questions

So many things go unasked; so much suffering occurs in silence.

Published September 12, 2008 10:43AM (EDT)

Dear Reader,

Today's column is a little different. Today's column is an answer to all letters and all questions voiced and unvoiced.

Today my thoughts and prayers are with all who are voiceless and would cry out if they could; and with those who have shouted their troubles into the canyon and still await an answer; and with my friend Karen Novak, who is in Ohio awaiting answers of the most urgent kind; this column is a humble answer to all the questions posed by our existence and a thank you for all the gifts acknowledged and unacknowledged that we have been showered with and that fill our lives; this is a salute and a prayer to all who are suffering and living in fear, to all who lack what they need, and to all who are wrongly imprisoned for crimes of weakness and addiction, and those killed and buried in shallow graves for sectarian or religious differences, and those living in hovels and swamps unable to afford shoes, and those imprisoned in cubicles preyed on by monstrous bosses, and those in high silent offices overlooking empires empty of soul and cold to the touch; this is a word of courage to those fearing for their lives and the lives of their families, and this is a word of clarity to those unable to sort truth from fiction, and this is an ear to those in possession of truths they cannot utter or cannot get published or cannot make heard, and this is a hearing for those playing melodies of impossible brilliance and those uncovering the secrets of life, and this is a gift of blessed quiet to those unable to sleep and unable to grieve; this a prayer and a song for everyone including those who work for the IRS which was kind to me today, and those working at the 76 station to fix the electrical problem in my truck, and all those who've recently been in auto accidents and live with broken bones, and those fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those shivering in the mountains of Pakistan and starving in the plains of Rwanda and suffering at sea and suffering at home and suffering in the desert, and those living with parents who shout at them and call them names, and those locked into relationships that give them no peace, and all those drowning and driving and crawling and screaming and fighting the flies and the vultures of a ravenous future, and all the imprisoned and all the broke and addicted and unfortunate and confused, and all the dead of 9/11: This day, my birthday, is for you.

This is my column today. This is an answer to all unwritten, unanswered and unsent letters -- hypothetical letters of the wounded heart, imagined letters of the questing mind, all letters that are possible in the future and in the past, including questions long buried in the sands of Egypt and the mountains of Peru, questions that will not even be heard for centuries to come. This is an answer to all that is unvoiced, because what is voiced is only a tiny, faint cry on the surface of the ocean compared to what is not voiced, what swims unseen throughout the vastness beneath, what lies at the lightless bottom of the ocean, unclassified, unexamined, undreamed of. This is a reply and a prayer to all that is unvoiced and unseen and unsaid, whether unsaid because it is taboo or because it is unconscious or because the gleaming words of fantastic machinery fine enough and sensitive enough to say it do not yet exist in our world. This is a reply to the unvoiced anguish of our tribe, our species, our family, our race, our order, our phyla, our solar system, our category, our idea, our being. This is an answer to every letter never written and every letter written but never sent and every thought never said and every letter sent and read but never answered.

This is my column today, written on 9/11, the day of my birthday, to all the dead of 9/11 and all the living and all the travelers coming and going, those who are departing and those who are arriving, those we will catch up to when it is our turn, those we will find one day sitting on a rock by a stream and say hello to once again. This is for all the kind well-wishers on Facebook! This is an answer to everyone to whom I feel I owe an answer. This is me returning your call, wherever you are. This is my long-delayed thank you card. This is an answer to my parents, too, whose lives now seem like one long question, whose impassioned whim so long ago created this moment. This is for all of you. This is my answer. This is my column today.

By Cary Tennis

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