I loved reading this article, in which Sufjan Stevens talks to Dave Eggers about his new album, Carrie & Lowell, dedicated to the mother who left and the stepdad who stayed. One of the things I really liked in Tim Keller's book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, is that he points out that what people will need to deal with will be different, depending on the cause of their grief. Having a parent who chose to leave is different to having one who died involuntarily, and there won't be the same anger and resentment, necessarily. Still, there are similarities. So here's a little bit from the last two paragraphs. Sometimes I feel like I must be screwed up in certain ways from my childhood (especially in the way I seem to be such a dunce at interacting with men in any romantic sense, and that failing to ever be a constructive experience), so I appreciated the line that "there's no perfect way to cultivate a person".
The audience, though, listening live or while lying on the floor of a bedroom in a broken home, shouldn’t forget that ultimately this is an album about forgiveness. After all, whatever familial madness Stevens experienced as a child, it produced him, a person in a Muppet hat who is capable of extraordinary music. I try to sell Stevens on this theory – that whatever we go through as children of chaos, ultimately we can be thankful for it all. For life, the rich madness of it.
Stevens takes a deep breath. We both look out the window, at the frozen white sky, blank with possibility. “You can’t change your history. But you can choose to relinquish the anger, and you can choose to recognise that there’s no perfect way to cultivate a person ... ”