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Clio's Temple

A poem, a song, a life of paradoxes

Do you have a hidden desire for your life to be a fairytale? We might not admit it, but we do sometimes yearn for fairytale outcomes in life. We remember those favorite fairytales where all came right in the end, even after heartbreak. By the time we reach middle age, we've learned that fairytales are rare things. Sometimes heartbreak happens and there's no compensation for it and no one to blame. We learn to accept life and go on. In the face of hard realities, how can we explain to others and ourselves the meaning of life?

Every life needs a song or a poem. Songwriters and poets are gifted at making even the deepest hurt seem beautiful. Maybe we think that songs and poems are for the rich and famous, not for the average person. We content ourselves with a slogan or a pithy phrase that expresses what life's about. But it is our very humanity, or mortality that writes the words of our own songs.

My father, a pilot in World War II, always loved the poem "High Flight." In the last twenty years of his life, a framed copy of this poem hung on the wall of his bedroom. He was also a romantic at heart, despite the hard times of his youth and young adulthood. When my mother was no longer able to care for herself, he picked up that burden, often serenading her with, "Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?" The idea that a successful businessman and community leader could be at once a realist and a romantic seems paradoxical. But part of what makes a life successful is the ability to live with paradoxes.

I'm currently doing research for Meredith's Song, the working title of a book about Meredith Legg Stapleton (1987-2014), a young woman whose short life seemed to have elements of poem, song, but also paradox, packed into little more than a quarter-century of walking this earth. A tough competitor in athletics, she was also a loving wife, daughter, sister, and friend. At a moment of triumph, she entered into a battle with cancer. The last five years of her life wrote a tale of faith and courage that still illuminates our world.

I'm targeting release of Meredith's Song for early-to mid-2020.

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