The Blessings of Inadequacy

“Purity," the recent novel by Jonathan Franzen, is the topic of an interview with the author conducted by Teri Gross on NPR. Franzen revealed that he had to pass over a threshold in his writing. He had always written in a confessional style but had exhausted the “surface” material from his life. He had to dig deeper for his latest novel. This struck a chord in me. I feel I have arrived at a crossroad, unhappy with my recent poems, feeling they do not meet my own standards. I have yet to find a poem in my recent work that I feel is “great” and worthy of being shared on stage or in life. I feel called to something deeper but I am truly at a loss about how to get to it.

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Purity: A Novel
By Jonathan Franzen

I really do not know how to dig deeper, how to find my way beyond this plateau. I feel myself called to find a source, called to find someone or something that can build a bridge across the void. I have never felt that I am enough in myself as if I am perpetually dancing on the edge of inadequacy. New age gurus may say "tsk tsk" and strive to correct the error of my ways pointing this out as a mistake in thinking or a flaw in my character. But I cling to the truth of this revelation. I am not enough.

This sentiment is not always layered with negativity. Instead, it offers hope that I may find another piece to the puzzle. It drives me to go beyond where I have been. I see it as a truth that serves to remind me that I need the world for the health of my body, I need the love of others for the happiness of my heart, I need to be a part of something beyond me for the sake of my soul. This may be obvious to others, but it is an astonishing revelation to me. I will never complete myself in this life and this is, in fact, a blessing. So, I celebrate my incompletion. I revel in my inadequacy, not as a limitation, but as a doorway to something greater. I wonder who, or what, is waiting on the other side...

Photo, Prose, and Recital © Nick LeForce
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