“This Infuriatingly Intricate Web”

A well-known local author mentioned at the most recent of his readings I attended that he’s writing a book about koans – a book I can’t wait to read, because isn’t life just a series of unfolding koans? Have I ever actually solved one? Some days, it seems to me, not likely.

My daughter spied a V of geese winging south yesterday, the first we’ve seen of this season, but one among countless Vs we’ve watched since she was a tiny girl, her arm crooked around my neck. Fall is familiar, graciously beautiful, infinitely sad, followed by the brilliant beauty of sparse winter: the same Vermont story, year after year, and yet I’m always surprised by the September mornings’ cool mist, the cucumber vines shriveling, all done with this life.

Cooking dinner yesterday, I read an article in the New Yorker about that terrible disease, cancer. Innocuously enough, the article begins with mollusks in Lake Michigan, journeys through seed and soil, and ends with a koan:

… as ambitious cancer researchers study soil as well as seed, one sees the beginnings of a new approach. It would return us to the true meaning of “holistic”: to take the body, the organism, its anatomy, its physiology—this infuriatingly intricate web—as a whole. Such an approach would help us understand the phenomenon in all its vexing diversity; it would help us understand when you have cancer and when cancer has you. It would encourage doctors to ask not just what you have but what you are.

– Siddhartha Mukherjee



About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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