All works are equal

I’m not going to throw my hat into the ring of commentary-on-Ferguson. I’m not going to think about how there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-I in regards to random violence. I’m not going to imagine the pain of Brown’s parents. I’m not going to listen to the estimates of when the elephant will become extinct (most likely in my lifetime. I’m broaching 50, so you can do the math).

I am going to remember that I asked Priscilla Long, in regards to her Work Inventory, why she didn’t note where her pieces are published. Because, she said,I have a body of work I want to do, and it doesn’t matter where it’s published. All works are equal.

All works are equal.

I am going to remember the giggle I couldn’t suppress while waiting to board airplanes this summer, when the gate agents called the “first class/priority” passengers to come through their priority boarding area. Which means those passengers walk over a rubber-backed 3×5′ piece of polyester carpet atop the regular carpet, to the left of the “boarding area” sign. They walk over this piece of carpet and they get to sit down first and they get to sit in seats that are a bit wider and if the plane blows up or disappears they get to lose their lives. Just like everyone else.

All works are equal.

I am going to reflect that on the day Captain Byers died in Iraq, my local obituary page held death notices for Catherine Cupp, Alma Frey, Goldie Gearhart, Lillian McClean and James May. I am going to assume that each person left behind a “to do” list, an unrequited love or two, and others who will remember their frown, their laugh, their bad puns.

All works are equal.

I am going remember that Michael Brown’s status as a young black man headed for college is a distraction from our disgrace.

All works are equal.

I’m going remember that the effect an essay, poem, screenplay, or novel has on any one person is as much, if not more, about the person reading than the work itself.

All works are equal.

I’m going to work today.



3 responses to “All works are equal

  1. Lesley, this is some powerful work here. No pun intended. First thing I read upon waking up and I found myself holding my breath the whole time. Powerful. And yes, all works are equal. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Dear Lesley, thank you again for such an eloquent article, where every word makes sense to me and resonates with me. I appreciate it! Also, I love that reminder that all works are equal, as I many times waste precious time and energy deciding BETWEEN works, when it is all equal, so I could have just one and then the other, because it just matters that it is done and not which is more; also, I love the reminder that the effect of one’s work on someone else is not “my business” – this reminds me of the discovery that if someone benefits from my work, then that is sheer grace; my work is to just do it, and that others benefit is icing on the cake; that is my experience with writing, in that I feel it was written for the writer because of something they had to express, and when other people benefit, especially large numbers, then that is absolute kismet! Thank you! Carol

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