Monday, June 1, 2009

Writing Blindly

There is a common theme that runs through our lives - that we have no clear idea of why we reach out to other human beings and no clear idea of the real meaning of our lives. This is the subject of Roger Rosenblatt's short story, "I am Writing Blindly," which centers on the message written by Lieut. Captain Dimitri Kolesnikov to his wife from aboard the sunken and doomed submarine Kursk. Captain Kolesnikov's writing to his wife is remarkable because it was only discovered when recovery efforts succeeded in raising the Kursk months after all members aboard had died from lack of oxygen, and all the more remarkable because 23 of the 118 crewmen had survived the initial explosion that sank the submarine in contradiction to the statement of the Russian Naval Command that all crew members had immediately perished. Finally, the writing is remarkable for the simple fact that Captain Kolesnikov wrote the message entirely in the dark.

Rosenblatt's existential belief is that the human species must search for meaning in life even if that search is unlikely to give us a clear and definitive answer. Rosenblatt's "Job-like" conclusion is that, "[O]ne writes to find God in every sentence. But God (the ironist) always lies in the next sentence."

Even when our circumstances are not so dire as those of Captain Kolesnikov, we reach out to family, friends, and even strangers to make a connection that defines our purpose for being here. Yet, like Kolesnikov there lurks the uncertainty that our message will be heard, or worse, denied by those we expect to listen to what we are saying. With such uncertainty lurking behind every move we make, it is not surprising that many individuals refuse to make the effort to make that connection with humanity. And, yet, we should all take heart from the tragic but ultimately uplifting story of the Kursk - sometimes our messages are heard.

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