Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kafka and Me

by Regina Edelman

Summer 2009 the United States is in recession. My husband and I don’t have jobs. No company wants to employ us as if we’re infected and undeserving to continue living after our fifties. Money enough, we make our own world as we boldly head to the future. I believe my studies of man and nature will be helpful to the blind journey of humankind.

Wind rattles lanterns on the sun-roof and chops green water in the bay below. I pass delicate purple tulips trembling among blowing leaves and bikini girls sunbathing on long deck chairs and then sit under a maple facing west.

I have my books around my beach chair: Jung’s Synchronicity, Confessions of Saint Augustine, and Collected Stories of Franz Kafka.

I read a good part of Jung's Exposition and as I marked the page for tomorrow’s studying, I noticed a wasp carrying dry branchlets to an anchor embedded between bricks at the bottom of the wall. Why does it work so hard to do that? To secure its fertile eggs for the future?

I finished one more chapter of Saint Augustine. He confessed he stole pears as a kid, regretted sexual pleasures of his youth, and described how his stressed mother fond of wine wanted him to be a priest to satisfy her. There was nothing more glamorous than to have a son become a Catholic priest in the third century, and Augustine became an obstinate priest fond of wine too.

I picked up Kafka. The wasp brought another branchlet to knit inside the anchor. I waited for it to finish its labor and fly back to get more material for its home. The Stoker the story marked to study, I read:

As Karl Rossmann, a poor boy of sixteen who had been packed off to America by his parents because a servant girl had seduced him and got herself with child by him, stood on the liner slowly entering the harbor of New York, a sudden burst of sunshine seemed to illumine the Statue of Liberty, so that he saw it in a new light, although he had sighted it long before. The arm with the sword rose up as if newly stretched aloft, and round the figure blew the free winds of heaven.

A sword? No, the Statue of Liberty doesn’t raise a sword, but a torch, doesn’t it? To search the truth, I got up and looked to the statue in the bay. The sun illuminated a torch in her upraised right hand. The Staten Island Ferry’s foghorn lowed. Sluggish sailboats fled down the Hudson. There came the little wasp loaded with one more branchlet. Lanterns rattled. Happy girls turned their butts to the sun. Big white clouds slowly passed.

The wasps never went to Harvard to learn their precise navigation.

©2009 Regina Edelman


  1. I hope you both have the jobs you desire and deserve by now! I can tell you, I really identify. My husband and I started out well, moving from Chicago to invest in some great property in Virginia. After our firstborn suffered colic for years and a malformed kidney that needed surgery, we were lied to fiercely by our realtor and then a hurricane hit an swept the marketplace out from under us. We lost everything--what few possessions I inherited from my dead mother are literally STILL in storage in Virginia. We lived on credit to get out of that situation, which wrecked our credit profile, and, as any good commercial can tell you, my husband could no longer get a job once Richmond VA closed the department he worked for. We've lived in poverty with 2 children for years. Only just now is that situation reversing itself. So: eventually (and it may take just about forever) there is hope. I think you yourselves are strong proof of that! Hang in there. With luck, the best is yet to come. *hugs* to you.

  2. Hi Savannah,

    Thank you for your kind letter. It’s rare to find a sensitive and compassionate person with an understanding about the struggles of life. It’s good to hear you’re navigating into peaceful waters.

    Daryl and I escaped bitter childhoods and have long suffered the consequences, even still, but we know better now. Our fortune is that we found each other. Being penniless and abused isn’t going to stop us from finding the peace we choose and the honor we work hard to gain.

    Hugs to you too, Savannah. Your sympathy is nutrition to our spirit.