Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Not Nice, Flan

Flannery O’Connor, America’s first mistress of the dysfunctional family, wrote a story called “The Enduring Chill”. In it, the son of a rural Georgia widow returns to his hated (of course) home from a failed attempt to make it as a writer in New York City. He is convinced that he is dying and writes and seals a letter for his mother in which he chronicles his bitterness against her hoping to leave her with an ‘enduring chill’ of doubt and remorse.

Instead, he reveals a chill of his own, and one shared by many others, I suspect.

“I have no imagination. I have no talent. I can’t create. I have nothing but the desire for these things.”

Thus is encapsulated the chill lurking in the back of any who wish to create: the fear that they lack the capacity to do what their heart longs to do. Its creeping icy wind stirs and grips artists and preachers alike.

My own version of hell is having an ear good enough to know that my guitar is out of tune, but one insufficiently skilled to bring it into tune. Cursed forever to be out of tune, falling short of the music one wants to make, leaving only the options of playing poorly or not at all. That is an enduring chill.

Thanks, Flan (is that what your friends call you?) for awakening that specter for us.

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4 Comments

  1. And this is why I loved Flannery O’Connor enough to write about her for my undergraduate “thesis” – about the theme of vocation in her work! It has been many years since I heard you play guitar, but it gave me much joy back then…my ear heard only good notes. (Admittedly, I have a crappy ear myself, but the joy should count, I think!)

  2. That’s where the little drummer comes in. He’s got no money, he’s got no fame, just plays his best for Him, barumpa-bum-bum.

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