February 23, 2010
Okay, so I was being a bit compelling by saying Karr "betrayed me." Truth is, I knew well in advance that she would have a religious conversion experience. She even has a parenthetical disclaimer after one chapter title warning: praying ahead. For those who don't know, I am one of the god-less heathens who somehow still leads a moral life (whatever that means). I don't ascribe to any form of theism and spirituality does not sit well with me. My husband has suggested at times, correctly I must add, that I have no Zen. While reading about Karr the cynic who attended AA meetings for guidance toward sobriety, not the "let go and let God" message, I found a kindred spirit. Then she goes "God shopping" with her son, a year-long exercise that takes her in and out of temples and churches of all denominations. The end result: Catholicism. Granted, she finds a church on the more social justice end of the Catholic spectrum - a more accepting and less judgmental group, in general - so her slow conversation really isn't a betrayal. And yet, I started my journey with Karr on a spiritually level ground; now close to the end of our journey together, she is healthier and I am alone. Yes, I'm leaving out the whole she got sober and stayed dry with the help of prayer and confession bit. And fortunately, I am not and never have been an alcoholic, so I'm not in serious need of a spiritual mantra to get me through each day, at least not in the same way that Karr did. Strangely, I did wonder what might happen if I prayed or meditated, focusing my thoughts and energy towards positive goals. Karr never claims to believe in miracles or answered prayers, yet she prays and a fat grant that was written FOR (not by) her is dropped in her lap. Or an agent begs her to write a memoir and agrees to publish it. Or the only literary critic she admires gives her book a favorable review. Or she's in desperate need of a car and a colleague loans her one while she's on sabbatical. And so on. Maybe an "Ohm" or two could lead me to publication, a paid writing gig, or a better attitude, who knows.