Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter photo 2

A heartfelt look by Aaron B. Cohen at the great arc of life through the prism of its details.

Heart of the Matter

Lost and found words

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Throughout the years I edited JUF News, I always kept a journal. Journaling, one of the most centering activities I've pursued, long preceded my working on any publication, and God-willing, will outlast my professional career.

The journal provides a record of your life, allowing you to dip your toes back in the waters of the past, to swim upstream and revisit coves along the banks, to feel the eddies, the rapids, and the still pools.

If you write a journal or work for a journal, you probably wonder, what will be the fate of your words? I reflected on that question back in April 2006 in this journal entry:

Is putting words to page an act as futile as any, or more powerful than many? 

I think of the writer who finds his mark long after his passing. He couldn’t know the destiny of his ideas, his words. He had imbued them with hope, longing for their immortality and so his own. 

Did he assume the words would die with him? Would that be the fate of his love letters, his notes and his journals? Or would a savior of lost words intervene? 

I am lucky to have published in a magazine; my words went on record. Finding them will be easier than finding a journal stashed in a drawer, in a box or in a closet, dormant, yellowing, mildewed, orphaned from its living context, skirting oblivion before emerging, a messenger from another time. 

Serious writers dream of discovery. The kiss of recognition entices them to ply their craft. Others lacking commitment or hubris write to fulfill a casual need, or merely for utility. For them, rediscovery would not stir the soul, causing it to whiff the familiar through the shroud of its afterlife. 

Do I want my words to live beyond me? To the degree I know they will I am pleased. I hope someone pulls a crumbling copy of JUF News from a shelf and stumbles on a column of mine that stirs an ember, uniting us like a thread that stretches between us. But if the words simply disintegrate, that too is fine, for then they will be like a silent amidah. I issued them as tefilot, as prayers, and as such I believe they made their mark. 

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