Friday, September 9, 2016
Yes, I'm an agnostic who never believed in God for a second.
But I'm still human.
So for some reason — some kink in the neural network — this thousand-year-old Indonesian statue of the Hindu god Ganesh cuts through my wall of spiritual cynicism.
Actually, I know the reason. It is because Ganesh is described as, "Remover of Obstacles."
Who doesn't want to embrace that? Particularly when the entity ballyhooed with this obstacle-removing ability is so placid, so centered, so elephantine.
So when I pass, hurrying through the ground floor of the Art Institute, to the modern art wing perhaps, I usually pause, stand before the innocent millennium-old lump of sandstone and say, "Please Ganesh..." and usually some plea involved with the writing, publication, sale or promotion of books, an endeavor just chocked with obstacles.
I figure, it couldn't hurt. And Ganesh, to his — her? its? — credit, never explains to me why whatever it is I'm hoping for won't come true.
Thursday night, my new book, "Out of the Wreck I Rise" was launched at the Poetry Foundation. My wife was there, and my brother Sam. My co-author, Sara Bader, and my agent, Susan Raihofer, of the mighty David Black Literary Agency, both flew in from New York. Kind friends agreed to read with me — Rick Kogan, Carol Marin and Bill Savage. Plus many old friends took the time to come, such as Cate Plys and her husband Ron Garzoto, and Kier Strejcek, from Northwestern, and Magda Krance, from the Lyric Opera, and the great Ed McElroy, and the good folks from the University of Chicago Press, and many more, all joining a standing room only crowd of enthusiastic readers.
I can't say for certain if it was those passing prayers to Ganesh that made it all happen — actually that was Steve Young and the fine folk at the Poetry Foundation. But I can't say that the great stone god didn't help in some abstract way beyond reasoning. Thanks Ganesh.