"Good morning, again, Job. I have not talked to you for about four or five days becuase I made a trip to Phoenix and didn't take my computer along with me. But I thought of you a lot, Job, especially when I was in Scottsdale. Scottsdale is a community just north of Tempe and east of Phoenix, where the rich and beautiful people hang out. Every shingle seemingly has the word "spa" someplace on it. Shopping, relaxing and hitting golf balls seem to be the order of the day. I don't think I heard the your name once while I was there, Job, but admittedly I didn't overhear lots of conversations. You know, Job, my brother and I have been thinking about trying to put on some seminars around the country centering around your book, entitled something like "Loss, Grief and Hope: the Book of Job for Today," or something spiffier than that--but a quick trip to Phoenix, with the detour to Scottsdale, almost puts a damper on that idea for me. I think you are as far from peoples' minds in those towns as is the history of the Silk Road.
But I did have one idea. I thought of hosting a seminar entitled "Job Fair" or "Job Opportunities" and getting people to attend, hundreds of them, making them pay $50 to attend. They would expect that I was going to talk to them about employment, but really, the "o" was a long "o" in the word "Job" and people would be paying me to listen to you, Job. How much enmity would THAT engender, Job? I would take the money and skip town before they realized what was happening. I wonder sometimes whether you almost need to become fraudulent to make things work for yourself in America, Job. Any comment on that?
As you can see, Job, my mind is wandering upon return. I don't like to leave you for such a long time. I think that when I do leave you my mind begins to atrophy, and I don't hear the palpitations of your heart anymore, even though I sometimes think of you. I think it was Rubenstein, the concert pianist, who said that if he didn't practice for one day, he knew it, and if he neglected his playing for two days, the conductor and his closest friends knew it. I have left you for four days, and what does that mean? So, bring me back in, slowly, to the words that only you know how to speak, and to the insights you so richly bestow on those who respect your pain and learn to question you properly.
Ah, yes, let's return to the point I was discussing before my mini-vacation. The question I am working on, the "grief work" as the shrinks would say, is whether you really were ever "restored" from the loss that raced through your life in chs.1 and 2. Your fortunes may have been restored (42:10), but was your heart renewed, your faith rekindled, your love restored? And, if so, what might that mean? The problem that dogs me (apologies to my Westie Molly) is whether a heart once turned inside out in terrible anguish can become "right" again--whatever that might mean. What is the shape of restoration? Can you only restore the externals?
You know, Job, we love that word "restore" in American life. Even law has gotten into the act. A few years back I was happening to read the Code of Federal Regulations. Actually, no one "happens" to read the CFRs. Only lawyers and companies affected by government regulations read them. The CFRs are a collection of about 100 volumes of "regs," as we call them. You simply cannot read them in most instances, but you can find the appropriate section that relates to your legal case and work through a few sentences at a time. Well, guess what, Job? On the obscure topic of natural resource damages in environmental law, where there has been an oil spill or some kind of environmental catastrophe, the goal of the process of cleanup, etc. is called "restoration." We want to "restore" Prince William Sound after the drunken captain ploughed into something and dumped his millions of gallons of oil there. "Restore" has such a pleasant, refreshing ring to it, and it may mean something in law, though its actual meaning is frequently litigated, but what does it mean with respect to the human heart?
Maybe I can illustrate further what I am trying to get at, Job. I think you and I are a lot alike, especially when it comes to our stubbornness, Job. As a matter of fact, someone could read your story and conclude that your problem is that you just couldn't "let go" of things, Job. Some people seem to be eminently flexible people--they face a problem and rather than "fighting it," they learn to conform themselves to the new "shape" of life. A sort of "Bill Clinton" of the 21st century. As the ancient Stoics used to say, we are being drawn along in life like a dog tied to a moving cart. We can either dig in our heels and be dragged, to our injury, or we can willingly run along in the direction of the cart. We will arrive at the same destination, and the cart will not be the worse for wear. Only we will be if we protest. Thus, the Stoics suggested it is better to learn to live "according to nature," which means to be like the animal who eagerly and willingly pads along with the cart, than to dig in the heels.
But I don't think that you have that philosophy of life, Job, and neither do I. I think you are stubborn, persistent, and will not let a subject go. You simply cannot "drop it" or, as they probably say in Scottsdale, "give it a rest." I need to tell you a story, Job, about my childhood, a story that gives me the strongest sense that I am kin to you of anything I could mention. I will have to defer that to the next essay, so go there now.