For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific The Write Question programs students have listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web. I also invite each of them to send me an essay they've written in response to a writer they read during the semester.
The following essay about Heather Cahoon's poem "A Movement of Memory in Five Parts" was written by DJ Reinhardt.
A Response to "A Movement of Memory in Five Parts" by Heather Cahoon
Heather Cahoon writes, “We are the series of moments we can remember.”
These days it seems more fitting to say, We are the statuses we update, We are the number of followers we have, or We are the amount of likes on a picture.
“You have to start somewhere,” Cahoon reminds me, and she isn’t referring to making a name for myself on the internet. “Reach back through the narrow fingers of memory.” It’s our memories, not our profile pictures that make us. Whether it was last night, last month, or years ago, memories affect every bit of who we are today. Who we are becoming.
“I pull my fingers quickly away from the wallpaper and try to discard my attachment to this place,” Heather Cahoon writes in her poem "A Movement of Memory in Five Parts." I too so often yank my fingers away from painful memories, discard them, throw them into the fire. Life isn’t supposed to be painful, at least that’s what society screams at us. Instagram your perfect life, upload the proof, hashtag your happiness.
But sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes to good people. Social media is often used as an outlet to complain, but I rarely ever see people post details about their intimate, personal struggles. These struggles become memories. An internal battle in a superficial world. A world that urges us to show everyone just how “together” we have it.
I’m 20 years old. “Together” is not the word I would use to describe my life.
As I walk across campus I wonder how many of these strangers feel the same way. With memories to work through. Feelings crawling their way out. In the words of Cahoon, “demons.” And it’s our decision to nurture them, or to starve them. We live in a society where perfection is promoted, comparison is almost encouraged, and “busy” is glorified. It breeds jealousy, insecurity, stress, and anxiety. It breeds demons.
We hide it so well, but Cahoon writes, “Each in our own way we struggle to rid ourselves of the demons that can destroy us.” Just behind the surface of updated cover photos, latest tweets, and Instagram worthy adventures, I wonder how many people are fighting a battle I know nothing about? Depression. Addiction. Anxiety. Anorexia. Bulimia. Alcoholism. To name only a few.
That is, “until we can transform them into light” as Cahoon proposes. What has transformed my “demons” into light?
Writing about them.
DJ Reinhardt is a junior at the University of Montana pursuing a major in creative writing and a minor in Spanish. She is currently employed at the Catalyst Café in Missoula, working as a waitress. When not working or busy with school, she enjoys writing, reading, and volunteering at Zootown Church. All her other free time is filled with friends, family, coffee, candy, and spending time exploring Montana.