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Gracian, the highest understanding not to understand, inspirational quote, the problem with suffering, fiction writing, new novelist, Laura K. Cowan, Laura Cowan, on suffering, fall oak treeSeveral months ago, I found a quote by Gracian that says, “Sometimes it proves the highest understanding not to understand.” I posted it on my bulletin board over my desk to remind myself that my fiction doesn’t need to answer questions, but only ask them for other people to consider. But this quote has taken on a new meaning for me today, and I think it is much more important than just writing good fiction.

For my family, 2012 has been a year of intense suffering. It is hard to overstate this, though none of my immediate family has passed away, so it could be worse. But that is the problem, isn’t it? It can always get worse, and in 2012 it continually has, to the point where we are all holding our breath, waiting to see if we really will all come out of this all right. We may not, given the way things have been going. But until today, I kept thinking that I could deal with anything if I could just understand what is happening to us. Why are we doing so many things right and things keep going so horribly, painfully wrong? How much of this can we really take?

Today, I looked at that quote above my desk again, and I thought, “What if this year is liberating me from the idea that I can only deal with the things I understand?”

What if? Is that just a straw I’m grasping at? Maybe so, but it is something redemptive I can take with me from this year. And maybe, if it’s true, it will set me free. Maybe I can deal with anything at all, and never understand, and not need to, and that is truly letting go and living in the current breath–not the next one, and not the last.