T h e N o t e
by Dale Wisely
This issue was edited entirely by Laura M. Kaminski, who joined us as an associate editor not so long ago. Laura's enthusiasm for RHP and our related projects is downright heartwarming and her editorial assistance has been a great help to us.
So, here is issue 78, Variations on Absence, filled with beautiful stuff. My thanks to Laura for putting together this excellent issue, front to back.
It feels like it's been months since I've written a The Note. (Or employed that weird pairing of articles of speech.) I've had a really strange and stressful summer. I've been putting off The Note I think because I didn't want to write about Robin Williams. So much has been written and said. And, to be honest, I don't feel like being clever or funny.
I always liked Robin Williams, who seemed like a truly sweet guy. He got plenty of credit for his comedy chops. Those manic performances, at their best, were unbeatable. But he probably did not get recognized quite enough for being a tremendously intelligent and sensitive actor. Well, there was the Oscar, but still ...
That said, I didn't particularly go out of my way to seek him out on TV or movies. The disturbance I feel is about losing another artist to some unknown blend of depression and substance abuse, something entirely too familiar to the writing community in general and poets in particular.
I've spent much of my 32-year career as a psychologist trying to help people fight their depression and their desires to die. I've taught other professionals some of what I know about self-injury. I have some intimate knowledge of depression in my patients, among my friends, and in my own life. Of all the many, many things written after Robin Williams' death, this is the one that has stayed with me. I think I saw it on twitter and I failed to note who said it, which I regret. "Like cancer, those who die from depression/alcoholism don't 'lose their battle.' They're not losers. These are just really shitty diseases."
I have friends who assert the right of people to choose to end their lives. I acknowledge that right, but I admit I don't want people to make that choice. Instead, I want to say this, and let me say it without defending it. Let's all try to stay alive. Things are coming. We need all the good people.
I love Right Hand Pointing. I love it because I love the beautiful, noble, heroic work of artists and writers and poets. Each issue is a little slice of stuff from all of us who are never going to get rich (or even paid) for doing what we love. It's noble and heroic because artists and writers and poets often feel a kind of pain that strikes many people down. It's struck down some of the greatest among us. I know this and you know this.
Thank you for being here as a reader. For being here as a writer or artist if your work appears in any of these pages, any of these issues, any of these 10 years. Thanks for being brave.