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Learning to Welcome It
"That's what's so great about friends, who have known you for a long time," said my sister Deb, "They can compare you with the you of years ago."
She was referring to the conversation I'd had at dinner last night with Riva Lehrer, a friend with whom I had a romance, pre-Pat, 17 years ago, and a preeminent artist in the disability culture, who said to me before getting out of my car, "I haven't seen you for a decade and you've accomplished so much in that time, and yet you sound the same as back then -- so self-dissatisfied."
"My mother's always telling me, 'Sarah, why don't you let yourself live?'"
My friend made a disapproving face and said, "I don't mean that you should change, but rather that you should make art out of those feelings....It's the bliss of struggle."
"The bliss of struggle! I love that. Did you make it up?"
"I think so."
"I do try to channel it into my writing, but I've also felt ashamed of the struggle, too. Pat has a T-shirt that I wear; it features a quote from Frederick Douglass, 'Without struggle, there is no progress.'"
"I read something that appealed to me that said, 'An artist has to be at home with embarrassment,' [so that the shame is usable, rather than paralyzing]."