This letter is the first of what I hope to become a regular practice of writing letters to those who have influenced and enriched my life. Some on my list are living, some dead. Some are people I have known personally, others are public figures. This week I thank one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. LeGuin.
Welcome to Grati-Tuesdays!
September 6, 2016
Ursula K. LeGuin
Dear Ms. LeGuin
For many years I have been writing letters to you in my head. To express gratitude for the myriad of ways you have changed the thoughts in my head, and my understanding of my own heart, with your writing.
From early adolescence and throughout my adulthood you have been providing me with stories that help me to better understand life. As my own children have discovered your writing, our family discussions have again reminded me of the power of fictional stories to get at the truth of things, especially your stories. By creating worlds in which women, people of color, and people of the Earth are the heroes, you created a crack that exposes the artifice of the myths that the corporate white patriarchy uses to try to keep us enthralled – and thus free us from those myths.
Here are some life lessons that I have gained through immersing myself into the life experiences of your well crafted characters:
- Though there is death and darkness, and though it must be respected, letting it become the focus of all is not what is called for.
- Sometimes what you lose along the way, you never get back, and that even if your losses were in service to a positive outcome, or the highest good, there is still grieving that needs to be done.
- That the real joy in life is often found in the small, even mundane details.
- That even those who live extraordinary lives, and perform extraordinary deeds, need time to reflect and heal.
- That the hopes we hold for each other may make the difference between a tragic outcome and a life of love and light.
- It is possible to transcend early trauma, and though that trauma will always travel with you, happiness and contentment can prevail.
- You set an example that helped me believe that my voice as a woman matters.
- That gender need not be the most important point of definition for us as humans.
- That our connection to the natural world tethers us to what makes life beautiful. That we have a profound responsibility to work on behalf of the Earth.
- You made me want to spend my life working towards cultivating rather than destroying.
Revisiting your books I can clearly see the great influence you have had on my perspective and thinking. To have grown up in a largely dysfunctional family, as a creative outlier in a small town which was largely baffled by my imagination, your works gave me a firm place to stand, and connected me to a vast tribe of people across time and space. I can see that your stories helped me to pursue science and art. Mostly your stories helped me to keep the faith that community is possible, and the courage to keep going until I found my place to thrive. For all of this I thank you.
Thank you for telling your tales, which have been so much the stories of my heart. Thank you for helping me to question, and come to my own truth.
With Dearest Regards & Deepest Gratitude,
Iris Sullivan Daire
Alderbrook on the Mighty Columbia River
In Particular these books held great meaning for me:
- The Left Hand of Darkness
- The Word for World is Forest
- The Eye of the Heron
- The Beginning Place
- Always Coming Home
…and of course All of the Earthsea books
- The Wizard of Earthsea
- The Tombs of Atuan
- The Farthest Shore
- Tales from Earthsea
- The Other Wind